Jack Eichel and Sabres nearing agreement for neck treatment; as team remains against surgery

jack Eichel trade
Feb 15, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) waits for a face-off ]during the third period against the New York Islanders at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

“We have definitely been communicating with the team and we are heading towards a resolution,” Eichel’s agent, Peter Fish, told both The Athletic and AP on Thursday.

So have the Buffalo Sabres and captain Jack Eichel finally have reached common ground regarding the next steps for treating Eichel’s herniated disk in his neck?

That seems to be the big question. What does “resolution” in this case really mean?

Eichel, 24, had indicated his preference for surgery — reportedly a disk replacement — but said the Sabres disagreed with that route and wanted him to rehab the injury instead.

The disconnect between Eichel and Sabres

jack eichel neck
Feb 18, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) skates during warmups prior to the Sabres’ game against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo general manager Kevyn Adams told reporters Thursday the club has not changed its perspective, adding that he did have a long talk recently with Eichel and his agent.

“Our stance hasn’t changed and where we’re at. It’s in the hands of the medical experts,” Adams said. “That’s what I said previously and it’s where we’re at right now. That’s the best I can give you.”

Back in May, the signs of a disagreement were clear.

“Now, it’s been speculated and discussed from Jack’s camp about potentially having a surgery that’s never been done on a National Hockey League player before,” Adams said at the time. “Our doctors aren’t comfortable with that.”

The agreed-upon rest-and-rehab period has now concluded but it does not appear that Eichel has changed his mind on the surgery.

“I would say I’ve been a bit upset about the way that things have been handled since I’ve been hurt,” Eichel said two days after the Sabres season ended. “I’d be lying to say that things have moved smoothly since my injury. So yeah, I think that there’s been a bit of a disconnect from the organization a bit and myself. It’s been tough at times.”

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Eichel, whose $80 million contract has five years remaining, last played March 7. At this point a trade seems inevitable.

–Field Level Media contributed to this article