Monday, April 11, 2016

Eichel Says Culture of Sabres is Changed

Jack Eichel finished the season as the first Sabre to lead the team in goals in 28 years, but the 19-year-old is more concerned with the big picture moving forward than his goal tally. “As a team, we did a lot of good things and we definitely changed the culture of the Sabres, but you’re never satisfied when you’re not in the race," Eichel said, after finishing the season in the top three of all NHL rookies in goals, assists and points. “You look at our last 40 games and we had a good winning percentage and next season is the time to make the turn.”

The Sabres turned up their play in the second half of the season, going 20-17-7 since January 1st, and Eichel hopes he can be better at managing the grind of an 82-game season next year. “I think I took that turn after Christmas time, I started to take notice in my own game, take more responsibility and expect more out of myself," he said. "There are a lot of ups and downs in an 82 game season, but try to find a consistency and be better night in and night out.”

On other news, U.S. hockey fans will be disappointed by the fact that Eichel announced that he will skip the World Ice Hockey Championships this May in Russia in order to rest and recuperate from a long season. But it's a decision that Eichel is making with his future conditioning in mind. He'll be missed at the Worlds, but Sabre fans will enjoy getting him back fresh and ready for a beastly sophomore season late next summer. “It’s time for me to take a little break and unwind a little bit here and take a deep breath for the first time in a while," he said.

He added: “It’s important mentally, physically, emotionally to take some time, be with your family, collect yourself, put the hockey bag away, stay out of the gym. Just relax a little bit, rejuvenate your mind, rejuvenate your body and prepare for your offseason training the right way where you can get the maximum results to help you come back next season feeling better than ever and hopefully take that next step.”