Eichel takes shot at Sabres fans after return: ‘Loudest I’ve heard this place’

During a commercial break, the Buffalo Sabres honoured former player Jack Eichel with a video tribute on the jumbotron that was met with a mix of cheers and boos from the fans in the building.

It’s no secret that Jack Eichel and the Buffalo Sabres didn’t part ways on the best terms, and those emotions continued to run high when Eichel returned to KeyBank Center for the first time with the Vegas Golden Knights.

While some fans applauded the former captain during a first period video tribute, he was serenaded by booing for a majority of the game. To make matters worse, Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs — two of the players Buffalo acquired in the Eichel trade — scored to pace the Sabres to a 3-1 win.

After the game, Eichel was asked about his chilly reception from the fans and he fired back with some shots of his own.

“I’m pretty happy it’s over, just move on,” Eichel said. “It was about the loudest I’ve heard this place ever. Really. It only took seven years and me leaving for them to get into the game.

“It was a nice tribute and there was plenty of people who were supporting me and there was plenty of people who were booing me. They must just be booing because they wish I was still here, I don’t know.”

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Eichel was drafted by the Sabres No. 2 overall in 2015 — one slot behind Connor McDavid — and was expected to be the star centre that would return the team to post-season glory. While Eichel emerged as a top scorer in the NHL, the team still failed to reach the post-season in his six years with the organization.

However, the breakup ultimately came from a dispute over which surgery Eichel would have to repair a disc injury in his neck. Through very public arguments the two sides bickered over a possible resolution but Eichel was ultimately traded to the Golden Knights in November and underwent his preferred procedure.

Since returning to game action in late February, Eichel has hit the ground running with seven points in 11 games. But even though he was held off the scoresheet Thursday, it’s clear this will be a night both he — and Sabres fans — won’t soon forget.

“It is what it is, I’m not the first guy to deal with it,” Eichel said. “You just move on.”

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