The 2016-17 season was a bitterly disappointing one for Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres.
Eichel himself missed 20 games due to injury, while the Sabres as a team failed to take any meaningful steps forward in their rebuild and actually finished with a worse record than they did a year ago thanks to a late-season collapse that saw them lose 16 of their final 23 games.
On Monday, Eichel showed some of that disappointment in his final media availability of the season.
The key point that Eichel focussed on was the culture around the team, where players not only have to want to win, but have to actually put in the work and have the desire to do it.
When asked if more players on the team needed to hate losing, he did not really hold back.
“Yeah. That’s what a winning culture is. Not being satisfied with yourself, not being satisfied with the fact that you’re losing,” said Eichel, via the Buffalo News. “I think it’s important to realize that you can’t be satisfied with the fact you’re in the NHL. I’m here to win.”
He continued: “It’s pretty frustrating, I think guys want to win but there is a difference between saying you want to win and actually wanting to win. Putting the work in, dedicating your life to it. When you do that and it doesn’t work it is pretty frustrating.”
He closed his media session by saying he didn’t want to call anybody on the team “a passenger,” but that they all need to look in the mirror for how the season went.
“There’s a lot of great guys in the room,” said Eichel. “I am not going to all anybody a passenger. I love all of those guys. I enjoy being around them every day. We just didn’t do enough to put our team where we wanted to be and as a group we all need to look in the mirror.”
You can see and hear Eichel’s comments here.
Even though Eichel missed the first quarter of the season due to an ankle injury he still matched his production from his rookie season (when he played in 81 games), scoring the same number of goals and recording one additional assist.
When it was pointed out to him that he was nearly a point-per-game player, Eichel quickly responded by saying he wasn’t and that he has not even started to scratch the surface of what he can be in the league.