BUFFALO – Center Jack Eichel’s disdain for losing was evident throughout the Sabres’ trying season.
The second-year star often looked frustrated after losses as he searched for answers. A day after the campaign ended, a restless Eichel was curt to the media. It appeared the Sabres’ last-place finish was still tormenting him.
“He’s very frustrated, and he wears his frustrations on his sleeve,” Peter Fish, Eichel’s agent, told the Times Herald by phone today. “After a long season – World Cup, ankle injury, weight on the world on his shoulders – he gets all these microphones in his face and it’s like, yeah, Jack’s frustrated.”
Still, that frustration doesn’t mean Eichel, 20, wants a new coach, Fish said. According to a report from WGR’s Paul Hamilton, Eichel has “no desire” to sign a contract extension if Dan Bylsma remains coach.
Fish called the report “a complete fabrication” and said he doesn’t “know where that’s coming from.”
“All Jack wants to do is win, and he’s a 20-year-old kid, sometimes his frustration gets the better of him,” he said. “I can assure you there is nothing to be remotely possible about Jack wanting a new coach or anything like that. All he cares about is getting better and hoping the team gets better and getting into the playoffs. That’s it.”
The Sabres can talk about a new contract with Eichel, who has a year left on his entry-level deal, beginning July 1. Fish expects them to call right away.
“I would be shocked if I don’t hear from them on July 1,” he said.
Is Eichel’s camp open to a new deal with the Sabres?
“One hundred percent,” Fish said.
Fish said some people interpreted Eichel’s words and mannerisms April 10, a day after the season ended, “any which way they wanted to.”
“The fact of the matter is Jack’s thinking, ‘I want to bring a Stanley Cup to Buffalo, and this year is definitely not going to be that year, I’m not making the playoffs and I’m (ticked) off about it and I don’t like not being in a position to win,’ and I get it,” he said.
Fish said when he talks to Eichel after games, the youngster mostly focuses on himself.
“Whether they win or lose, we always just talk about things that he himself could’ve done to help the team win, done better,” he said. “There’s never been talk of teammates or coaching or anything like that.”
Eichel often expressed frustration to the media over the Sabres’ lack of aggressiveness this season.
Sabres general Tim Murray said last week the team’s coaches and the captaincy could be part of Eichel’s contract negotiations. Murray is currently meeting with owner Terry Pegula in Florida discussing the Sabres’ future.
Fish said Eichel met with his coach and GM before he recently returned to Boston.
“When he came home, he said he had a pretty positive meeting with Dan and Tim and kind of seemed excited what might happen for next year,” he said. “Every year, every team that doesn’t make the playoffs, they’re probably one or two little tweaks away from making the playoffs, and Jack’s a very, very competitive kid.”
Eichel, the second overall pick in 2015, compiled 24 goals and 57 points in 61 games this season. A high ankle sprain sidelined him the first 21 games.
In other news, Eichel will play at the upcoming World Championship, USA Hockey announced today.