Sabres’ Eichel done for season with neck injury

NHL

Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel will miss the remainder of the season due to a herniated disc in his neck. The team made the announcement Wednesday, adding that Eichel is “expected to be healthy and ready to play at the beginning of the 2021-22 season.”

It’s been a brutal season in Buffalo. Eichel has been out since March 7. The team endured an 18-game winless streak, the longest in the salary cap era, and fired coach Ralph Krueger in March.

The Sabres are poised to miss the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season, and were sellers at Monday’s trade deadline, parting with Taylor Hall, Brandon Montour and Eric Staal.

The 24-year-old Eichel recorded 18 points (two goals, 16 assists) in 21 games this season. He was on a four-game point streak at the time of his injury. Interim coach Don Granato told ESPN earlier this month that he was “hopeful” Eichel would return this season.

“I had Jack in the U.S. program when he was 16,” Granato told ESPN. “I got to know him then, and I thought the world of him then. It’s something I’m excited to be a part of when he’s back — because we expect him back, we’re hopeful he’ll be back before the end of the year — and I look forward to that, now in the position of head coach.

“He means a lot to me personally. I love the fact that he has such strong and visible emotions of the game. I’ve reminded him numerous times that he’s got to make sure he finds the fun in all of this, too. Sometimes a lot of these great athletes are so intense, and there’s so much demand on them that they feel like they can’t have fun. It becomes such a business. They’re judged on different levels. I’m speaking generally now, but when you lose that, or you stop being aware of that, it becomes even harder.”

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