BUFFALO – Center Jack Eichel said it’s “disappointing,” even “embarrassing” the Sabres haven’t performed better for the team’s loyal fan base.
“You want to please the fans because of all they’ve been through and all they continue to put up with,” Eichel said this morning following practice. “You still want to be better. It’s disappointing our season’s ending like this.”
The Sabres, of course, will miss the playoffs for the sixth straight season. This was supposed to finally be the year they jumped into the postseason again.
Instead, they rank seventh in the Atlantic Division, just 32-35-12 entering Wednesday’s home finale against Montreal. But fans still pack KeyBank Center like they have for most of the Sabres’ long drought.
To Eichel, Sabres fans have shown a special commitment over his two seasons.
“Pretty loyal to us, obviously,” Eichel said. “Sellout games, we don’t play well, they’re here. We play good, they’re here. We play bad, they’re here. … I got nothing but great things to say about these fans. They’ve been nothing but great to us, nothing but great to me, my family, all my friends. Whenever they’re in town, they treat them great.
“Myself, it’s been a mediocre two years.”
Eichel noted Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the New York Islanders, a meaningless game, was sold out.
“There’s 19,000 people here,” he said. “I’m sure that if we were in other cities it wouldn’t be the same case. You got to appreciate that as a player. It’s a lot better than coming here to an empty building.”
He added: “Thanks to all of them to supporting us throughout the year. We’ve got one game left, and just put it all out there for them and try to win a hockey game and bring some excitement in the building.”
In other news, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said winger Kyle Okposo, out the last three games with the flu, has undergone testing from team doctors. He had no other update.