Alright, folks, get ready for a load of information, and yes, down at some point, some of it will not make sense. However, you cannot blame Hockey Feed this time around - as some of you know you enjoy to do so on social media. What does not make sense here, is the Buffalo Sabres. And we are not talking about the fact that the team currently sits last in the entire league with just 56 points. That has been incomprehensible since many months now.
The new report that is hard for fans to understand concerns the Sabres' star player. This week, Jack Eichel has returned to practice Tuesday for the first time since mid-February. As you can remember, the 21-year-old was injured in a Feb. 10 game in Boston when he was taken down by Boston Bruins defenceman Matt Grzelcyk. His recovery time was expected to be four to six weeks.
"I don't really know. I don't want to put a timetable or pick a specific game," Eichel told reporters after testing the ankle. "I'd like to play as quickly as I can. It's more about how I feel and how my ankle reacts to practice today, how it feels tomorrow, how I feel physically."
Now, following the many reports that Eichel's recovery is progressing quite well, FanRag Sports cries out for the Sabres to avoid making a huge mistake. While head coach Phil Housley indicated that Eichel will not be in the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, he did not rule out Eichel for a return to action in Saturday’s matchup against the spiraling Chicago Blackhawks.
Say what now? FanRag Sports' Eric Wollschlager does not hold back:
"It is utterly ludicrous. Though also an apt phrase to describe the inept and hapless 2017-18 season, the idea that Eichel should have his sights set on anything other than preparation for next season is painfully terrible. The young star leads the team in points, despite having missed 14 games already this season – he has proven his worth. There is little reason to push him back into games before season’s end; there are a lot of reasons to bench him for the final 13 games of the year."
The funny thing is that despite playing only 55 games this season, Eichel still leads the Sabres in goals (22), assists (31) and points (53).
The star player missed more than a month in 2016 with a high-ankle sprain in the opposite leg. There was talk then about shutting him down for the balance of 2017-18 with the Sabres in last place, so why would the Sabres change their minds now?
"There is nothing left to lose for Buffalo, because the Sabres have already lost just about everything. After only 10 wins at home, their embarrassing record has finally caught up to them, and the team is in last place. The Sabres are clearly gearing up for the future, and with that mindset there is no reason to rush Eichel back to the ice," Wollschlager adds.
And he is right. Your best player's injuries are not something to mess with...
"Soft tissue injuries like the ankle sprains that have benched Eichel the past two seasons are frequently reoccurring, and that is cause for concern. Studies like this one in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy have identified slower muscular reaction related to repetitive joint injuries. With nothing riding on the remainder of the season, aside from the best possible shot at the first pick, giving this injury and the damaged tissue extra time to heal seems like the logical, ideal approach."
Eichel signed an eight-year, $80-million contract extension in October, which will kick in next season. And that what Eichel and the Sabres should focus on: NEXT season.