Jack Eichel fails physical, stripped of Sabres’ captaincy

Eichel
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Jack Eichel will no longer be the captain of the Sabres, general manager Kevyn Adams announced on Thursday.

“From our perspective and my perspective, I feel the captain is the heartbeat of your team. And we’re in a situation from where we were in the past and where we are now that we felt we needed to address that and make that decision,” Adams said.

Adams added that he spoke to Eichel earlier this week and then addressed the rest of the team as they arrived for the start of training camp on Wednesday.

The Sabres named Eichel captain in Oct. 2018, one year after the 21-year-old signed an eight-year, $80 million extension. Since then, Buffalo has posted a 78-104-25 record with zero playoff appearances.

Eichel, as expected, failed his physical as he continues to deal with a herniated disk in his neck. The Sabres want him to get a neck fusion surgery, but Eichel prefers cervical disk replacement surgery, a procedure never performed on an NHL player. Per the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams have the final say on how injuries are treated.

“We have absolute trust in our doctors. They are the medical experts. They’ve been consistent since day one,” Adams said. “They’ve never wavered from what they think should be the next step, and if something else was done, they would be uncomfortable with it.”

Eichel, who injured his neck during a game in March, will begin the season on long-term injured reserve.

As trade rumors bubbled up over the summer and this situation continued to play out between player and team, Eichel fired his agent and hired Pat Brisson to represent him to expedite the process. But the two sides do not appear to be any closer to a resolution.

Eichel’s full no-move clause kicks in next summer.

“If we have an opportunity to [improve the roster], and we feel it’s the right thing for the franchise, then we’ll do it,” Adams said. “But if there was a solution over the summer, and we thought it made sense, then we would have done it. Obviously that’s not the case.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.