Eichel stripped of Sabres captaincy, placed on IR with neck injury

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Jack Eichel no longer is captain of the Buffalo Sabres.

General manager Kevyn Adams announced the decision Thursday after Eichel failed his training camp physical because of a herniated disk in his neck and was placed on injured reserve.

“I spoke to Jack two days ago, I spoke to the team yesterday and addressed this,” Adams said. “Jack Eichel is no longer the captain of the Buffalo Sabres. From our perspective, the captain is your heartbeat of your team, and we are in a situation where we felt we needed to make that decision.”

The center had been named captain Oct. 3, 2018. It was one year to the day after he signed an eight-year, $80 million contract ($10 million average annual value).

Eichel has been the subject of trade rumors in part because of a disagreement with the Sabres on how to treat his neck injury, which kept him out of the final 33 games of last season. Eichel had expressed interest in an artificial disk replacement surgery while the Sabres have said their doctors aren’t comfortable with a procedure that has not been performed on an NHL player and preferred an approach of rest and rehabilitation.

Adams said Thursday Eichel will now need neck surgery, but that the two sides still disagree on what the procedure should be. 

He said Eichel has declined a fusion and the Sabres do not want him to have the disk replacement. 

“I think we would all agree that we were hoping to avoid surgery … unfortunately, yesterday Jack did not pass his physical,” Adams said. “At this point, Jack is not willing to move forward with what our doctors are suggesting … we will continue to work toward a solution.”

More to come.

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