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The Sports Daily > Buffalo Wins
My thoughts on Jack Eichel vs Dan Bylsma vs the locker room

With his evaluation of the season complete, Sabres General Manager Tim Murray is presenting his findings to owner Terry Pegula. They could contain a bombshell. Jack Eichel reportedly has no desire to sign a contract extension this summer if Dan Bylsma remains the coach, [as] Paul Hamilton of WGR-AM 550 reported Wednesday. Differences of opinion between Eichel and Bylsma have been mentioned throughout the season. If it indeed comes to an either/or scenario, Bylsma is the overwhelming underdog. Murray has made it clear Eichel is his guy. (TBN)

Mind of Joe
Wow. Cue up the Anchor Man “That escalated quickly” meme. I don’t really know what to think. On one side, I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon who yells about some kid who can’t work under his coach. On the other side, we are talking about a player who has played just 142 games. Look, I’m normally fine with a young star player running out their coach. Off the top of my head, I can think of when Magic Johnson did it in the early 80s, Michael Jordan with Doug Collins, Hasek did it with Ted Nolan, and John Elway with Dan Reeves. It is easier to fire the coach than the star player.

My issue is maybe it is a little too early in his career to start pandering to Eichel. Eichel has played just 142 games and the Sabres haven’t won dick yet. At least with some of the star players I mentioned above, they had playoffs and even championships under their belt before they made the power play.

It has been hard to criticize anything Eichel has done because he’s “The chosen one” and the radio station/fan base are in protective parents mood where nothing can be said about him in a negative light, which in turn will make other prominent media voices go after him in order to get a “Reaction to the reaction” and bury Jack who seems to NOT be getting along with beat guys.

Again, it is complicated for me as I’m willing to bend over and let the guy have a ton of power as I will give a lot of rope to players, specifically those who are going to help me win. Yet, I still need to be romanced a little more here. You don’t become pussy whipped until at least a year or two of dating and I feel we aren’t there yet with Jack. I’m fine with Eichel complaining and being honest, but to put a gun to Murray’s head and say I’m not signing if Dan is here, that’s a little much. 

As much as I love Eichel, he hasn’t won anything and his numbers aren’t on par as of now with guys who should have carte blanche to run someone out of town. Like play at least 2 more years, rank in the top 25 in scoring, and THEN run off the coach. It just feels too much too soon to have Jack with this much power. 

Of course, this could all be about his contract and just a negotiation. Pegula is known to give people anything they want and maybe this is a way for Eichel to get as much money as possible by ownership placating his bank account by overpaying because he “Hates” his coach. I mean, what is Eichel gonna do if Bylsma is the coach next year? Not sign? He’s a RFA and he’s not going to turn down a shitload of money from the Sabres.

Now as I’m writing this, Eichel’s agent has basically shutdown this notion and he’s doing so by calling everyone in the media. So, while some may think this was leaked to make Dan look bad, maybe this was leaked to #Paulrus to make Jack look like the villain. While I’m sure WGR felt this was a dagger into Bylsma’s heart since they have had such a hard-on with wanting to fire him and have Jack’s back, the agent is really working OT here to make sure his client is clean.

Now while its cool to make it Jack vs. Dan for the theatrics, it shouldn’t be just about that, but more like Dan vs. the locker room vs each other. There’s been so many leaks coming out about how much the players hate Bylsma and even to a certain extent each other. There’s been bickering in that locker room even to the point where people are indirectly throwing the coach and other teammates under the bus after games.

Remember Lehner vs Eichel? #Paulrus even had a piece recently where he talked about teammates not liking Josh Gorges.

Or how about Vogl’s piece where he kind of hinted at players not liking Evander Kane’s practice habits?

Take this as a rumor, but I’ve had a bunch of people in the known slide into my DMs about players not liking each other or playing on specific lines with them. To me, that’s more disconcerting because players/coach angst happens everywhere, but when you start getting into players vs players, you are on dangerous grounds.  I’ve followed the Sabres for almost 30 years and I can’t recall this many leaks coming out about the players vs. themselves vs. their coach.

Overall,  I really was hoping these adults would find common ground between each other. Instead, it looks like pure chaos where Game of Thrones story lines have come to #OneBuffalo. I’m waiting for Tim Murray to crash Bylsma’s wedding and stab him in the heart and say “The Eichels send their regards!!”

Never a dull moment in #Onebuffalo.