After a report surfaced Wednesday that Jack Eichel would refuse to re-sign with the Buffalo Sabres if head coach Dan Bylsma isn’t fired — something the centreman’s agent was quick to deny — Eichel himself spoke out on Wednesday.
Speaking to The Buffalo News, the 20-year-old vehemently denied the rumours that he’s trying to get his coach fired.
“It’s frustrating more than anything that I think the wrong message is being put out about me and about our organization and team,” he said. “That’s why I think my agent did a good job of calling you and putting the right message forward about what my real opinions are because I want to be a Sabre and I want to be a Sabre for a long time and I want to be a part of Buffalo when we win.”
Eichel added he isn’t one to “point the finger and blame other people,” and noted that he felt he’d landed on the same page as Bylsma during his exit interview.
"We go through our meeting, and I thought things went pretty well," he said. "By the end of it, I thought we were on the same page. In terms of hockey specifics, we talked a lot about the team, the play and my play and what he thinks I can do better and what I want to work on in the off-season. I think it was a pretty normal exit meeting, and one that you leave saying I want to work on this stuff and this stuff and be better for next year."
Eichel's frustration in the Q & A is clear: While there had been persistent talk of his supposed unhappiness with Bylsma's system, the Massachusetts native was under the impression that "things were heading in the right direction."
Lest he end up branded a coach-killer, Eichel made a point of stating the obvious: "I’m not on the management side of things. And I’ve said it before and people take it the wrong way, but I’m also not the coach. Obviously, I speak with them and have a relationship with them, but that’s their job. I look at it as that’s not my job. My job is to play and try and perform every night."