‘The process is not working’

As the hockey world awaits a potential deal to end Jack Eichel‘s tenure in Buffalo, the centreman’s representation put out a statement Friday on the state of his relationship with the club.

“The process is not working,” the statement from agents Peter Fish and Peter Donatelli read, in response to Sabres GM Kevyn Adams’ recent comments about the team not feeling pressure to move their captain, and being in control of the process.

“As previously stated, we fully anticipated a trade by the start of the NHL free agency period,” the statement continued. “After the agreed upon and prescribed period for conservative rehabilitation lapsed in early June 2021, it was determined by the Sabres medical staff that a surgical procedure was required. 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.”

The central point of contention between the two sides still appears to centre on Eichel’s neck injury, and his preferred method of treatment. Back in May, the former second-overall pick made waves by telling reporters he was displeased with how the team dealt with his injury.

“I’ve been a bit upset about the way things have been handled since I’ve been hurt. I’d be lying to say that things have moved smoothly since my injury,” Eichel said at the time. “There’s been a bit of a disconnect between myself and the organization. It’s been tough at times. Right now, for me, the most important thing now is to try to get healthy, figure out a way to be available to play hockey next year, wherever that might be.”

Though the player is hoping for the disk replacement surgery, the Sabres medical staff are said to have recommended against it because it hasn’t yet been performed on an NHL player. In July, it appeared the two sides were reaching a resolution on the issue. Friday’s statement from Eichel’s representation suggests otherwise.

Fish and Donatelli also took issue with the Sabres’ stance on the surgery, saying in their statement, “A further point of concern is that the Sabres specialist was in agreement with the Artificial Disc Replacement surgery until that was no longer the case.”

The duo suggested Eichel would potentially be able to start the 2021-22 season, pending medical clearance, if he were to have his preferred surgery.

“Repeated requests have been made to the Sabres since early June to no avail. This process is stopping Jack from playing in the NHL and it is not working,” the statement read.

Eichel has spent the past six seasons with the Sabres — in that time he’s amassed 355 points through 375 games with the club, highlighted by a 36-goal, 78-point effort through 68 games in 2019-20.

Earlier this week, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman shared the latest on the trade negotiations surrounding the star pivot, reporting that Anaheim, Calgary and Minnesota were among the clubs in on Eichel.

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