Jack Eichel Removed as Sabres Captain, Fails Physical Because of Neck Injury

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2021

UNIONDALE, NY - MARCH 06: Buffalo Sabres Center Jack Eichel (9) skates with the puck during the third period of the National Hockey League game between the Buffalo Sabres and the New York Islanders on March 6, 2021, at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams announced Thursday that star Jack Eichel was removed as the team's captain after failing his physical because of a neck injury.

"From our perspective, the captain is your heartbeat of your team," Adams said. "And we are in a situation where we felt we needed to make that decision."

Eichel, who's been the focus of trade rumors throughout the 2021 NHL offseason, and the Sabres have been at odds about the treatment he should receive.

Eichel preferred to have an artificial disc replacement surgery, which hadn't ever been performed on an NHL player before. The Sabres, however, disagreed with the recommendation of Eichel's neurosurgeon and withheld their approval for the procedure in favor of a fusion surgery.

The 24-year-old center was limited to 21 games in 2020-21 as a herniated disc ended his season in April. 

Because of the delay in making a final decision, his availability for the start of the 2021-22 season was thrown into doubt.

The saga led many to feel a separation was inevitable.

Prior to the herniated disc, the 2015 first-round pick had been playing the best hockey of his career. He posted 160 points (64 goals, 96 assists) in 145 games between 2018-20 and had two goals and 16 assists through 21 appearances last season.