Sabres' Eichel is humbled to be their 19th full-time captain

October 3, 2018
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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - In just his fourth season in the NHL, Jack Eichel has been named captain of the Buffalo Sabres. Phil Housley brought the team to center ice after practice to announce the move.

After Brian Gionta left last season, Phil Housley and Jason Botterill decided not to have a captain.

They carefully watched the growth of Eichel throughout the season and they felt the time is now right. Housley said, “We felt that Jack has made the right steps in his maturity and I think he’s the right captain to lead our franchise.”

It was easy to tell that Eichel will take his role very seriously. The new captain said, “It was a really humbling moment and I’m just so honored that I’m in the conversation, first of all being a leader with this group and to be the captain, it’s an incredible honor.”

Housley thinks Eichel will be the people’s captain and when he called him back to the arena on Tuesday night to tell him, Housley said it was a nice moment, “I think it’s exciting, not only for me, our players, but for our city. I think he represents everything we want as far as our organization goes and it was just a great intimate moment for him to accept the captaincy in front of the general manager, the owner and myself.”

There has been a huge growth process for Eichel ever since he arrived as an 18-year-old. Housley said, “Just in the way he carries himself, day in and day out, but I think it started after last season with the things he said to the media and just his growth through the summer.

“He wants to win, he’s a tremendous competitor and I think he’s going to try to do everything in his power.”

Eichel also talked about how much he’s grown in three seasons. He said it’s not just him, “I don’t think I would’ve been given this opportunity if it wasn’t for the other leaders in this room that have pushed me to be better and have taught me a lot about myself.

“We’ve spoken at length how invested I am in this city and this organization and it’s just an unbelievable feeling.”

Housley said, “A sign of a good captain is asking for help. It’s going to be more leadership by committee.” Eichel said he likes what he’s seen since August, “I like where we’ve been at through camp. I think the overall morale and the room itself is changing and heading in the right direction.”

Eichel wasn’t ready to be captain last season. Housley thinks now he knows what he has to do, “The biggest thing is leading by example. He’s got to set the tone not only in the practices, but in the games.”

Eichel himself said, “Going through the last few years, I was able to learn a lot about myself as a person and nobody’s perfect and I think I’m just trying to be a better person, more of a leader.”

The team had Tuesday off and the call didn’t come until evening. Eichel said, “I was actually cooking dinner last night at my house and he called me (Housley) and I came in and sat down and had a chat with him and Bots and Mr. Pegula, so it was a really cool moment.”

The alternate captains are Kyle Okposo and Zach Bogosian.

The Sabres had one final practice before the season opener Thursday against Boston.

Thursday’s lines:

 

Skinner  Eichel  Reinhart

Sheary  Berglund  Thompson

Sobotka  Mittelstadt  Okposo

Girgensons (Elie)  Rodrigues  Pominville

 

Scandella  Ristolainen

McCabe  Dahlin

Beaulieu  Nelson (Tennyson)