What could happen if Jack Eichel went ahead with surgery against Sabres consent

The Sabres and Jack Eichel will eventually part ways. While everyone thought that was going to happen before free agency started on July 28th, it hasn’t. There’s also no signs that this is coming to an end soon. To the contrary, it appears it will drag on into the season.

Whenever the trade happens, Eichel won’t be ready to play because the biggest issue between the two sides remains unresolved. That’s the issue of the 24 year-old’s injured neck and the surgery he wants to have.

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Jack Eichel’s next surgery dilemma

Dr. Chad Prusmack appeared on the 31 Thoughts Podcast, to explain why he advised Eichel to get an artificial disc replacement. He noted that an artificial disc replacement is not only better for Eichel’s long-term health, the recovery time is about 8 weeks. This is in contrast to the traditional treatment of a fusion for a herniated disc which limits movement and has a longer recovery of about 12 weeks. Furthermore, he said that after Eichel’s career, he could require several more fusions to correct his issues.

After hearing that, one can easily see why Eichel wants the disc replacement procedure over the Sabres recommended fusion surgery. The situation gets more complicated as it was revealed per Eichel’s agents that Buffalo initially agreed to the disc replacement.

jack Eichel injury
Feb 26, 2020; Denver, Colorado, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (9) before the game against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

“The recommendation by Jack’s independent neurosurgeon, other spine specialists consulted, and the surgery Jack feels most comfortable having in order to correct a herniated disc in his neck is to proceed with Artificial Disc Replacement surgery,” Eichel’s agents wrote in a statement. “A further point of concern is that our camp was initially under the impression that the Sabres specialist was in agreement with the Artificial Disc Replacement surgery until it was no longer the case.”

Since all this info came to light, many fans have asked why doesn’t Jack just get the surgery he wants? Let’s dive deeper into that scenario.

What if Eichel went ahead with the disc replacement?

I’m sure others have mentioned the clear CBA violation Eichel would be committing if he defied the Sabres and got this surgery, but what consequences would he face?

Tim Graham of The Athletic recently covered that Paragraphs 4 and 5 in the CBA explain the violations. Bottom line, if Eichel were to get the surgery and be “unable to perform” the Sabres could terminate his contract.

I know that many who just read that are thinking, why hasn’t he gotten the surgery then? He would become a free agent.

Well, that is assuming that Buffalo would terminate his deal instead of suspending him without pay and giving him a fine. That’s the route Buffalo would likely take until he’s cleared to play. It’s a big risk for Eichel because no surgical procedure is a guarantee to go without issue.

Heaven forbid there were complications, not only would Eichel’s career be in jeopardy but he could stand to lose the $50 million remaining on his contract. Simply put, the risk isn’t worth it. Not when he could hold out of camp until a trade is done.

Worst case scenario, if he were to sit out the entire season he’d have more control next summer when his no-trade clause kicks in.