Skip to main contentSkip to main content
You have permission to edit this article.

Jack Eichel thankful to be having fun on the ice once again

Jack Eichel is finally having fun playing hockey again, and he couldn’t be any more thankful

  • 0

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jack Eichel is finally having fun playing hockey again, and he couldn’t be any more thankful.

A little more than a year after having an artificial disk replacement procedure on his neck, he’s at the top of his game and loves his new home with the Vegas Golden Knights.

“It’s been a lot of fun coming to the rink every day and being with these guys,” said Eichel, who has 26 points in 21 games this season. “Rarely do you get a group that is completely bought in together and I feel like that’s how we are.”

Eichel is on pace to finish with 101 points after scoring a goal and adding an assist in Wednesday night’s 4-1 home win over Ottawa. His career high is 82 points in 2018-19 with Buffalo.

His divorce from the Sabres is well-documented and left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth on both sides.

And when Eichel returned to Buffalo near the end of last season, he didn’t take kindly to the not-so-friendly welcome he got from Sabres fans, who showered him with boos every time he stepped on the ice.

This season, the 26-year-old dynamo was better prepared mentally.

“I think this year just going into Buffalo I had a different expectation of what was gonna happen,” Eichel said. “I think last year I wasn’t sure how I was going to be received. I think there was probably part of me that hoped that I was given more of a positive reception, but having went through it last year and learning from that experience, I just tried to go in with a different mindset this year. Obviously, I knew what the reception was going to be, so there wasn’t anything that was going to surprise me.”

Eichel skated out of Buffalo with the last laugh this time. He scored his third career hat trick — first with Vegas — while adding an assist in a 7-4 win that capped a 5-0-0 road trip for the Golden Knights.

“You know that’s gonna be an emotional game at the end of the trip, and you’re just trying to find whatever energy you have left in your system to play that one,” Eichel said. “Emotionally, it doesn’t take much to get up and go play your opposing team. I’m sure if you ask any guy here that’s moved on from somewhere else, it’s always easy to get up and emotionally be connected to the game.”

Eichel has been dialed in since the season opener, getting at least one point in 16 of the team’s first 21 games. But he isn’t about to take credit for the feel-good state of mind he’s enjoying for the first time in several years.

The chemistry in Vegas, he said, comes from a locker room that’s been known to build friendships and bonds since the franchise entered the NHL in 2017.

“It’s a credit to all the guys that are in here,” Eichel said. “Nobody’s on their own page, everyone’s together, everyone wants the guy next to them to do well and it’s just been a lot of fun to be a part of this.”

Eichel said it’s been quite some time since he’s enjoyed driving to the rink every day, and traveling with teammates, being on planes and buses, and actually establishing friendships with guys who bring their own prestige to one of the best rosters in the league.

And the feeling is mutual.

An original Golden Knight who was part of the team’s expansion draft, Jonathan Marchessault remembers how the inaugural team coming together off the ice was a big reason it made its stunning run to the Stanley Cup Final.

With a lot of similarities to that chemistry, Marchessault said Eichel has fit right in.

“He’s been nothing but great for us,” Marchessault said. “He’s a laid-back guy, he likes to have fun and that’s what we’re all about here. We’re all about having fun and being professional and win some games. And when we do that, it’s probably the best chemistry you can have.”

And then there are his skills on the ice.

“Guys like that, it’s another world, you know?” Marchessault added. “It’s another world of skills that none of us have. It’s just the way he plays. He’s just a gifted hockey player. He has all the skill set that you need to be a high-performing hockey player, and he has it and he brings it every night. He’s a game changer for us and we’re lucky to have him.”

Thankful Knights, all around.

More AP NHL: and

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

Iran goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand was injured and carried off the field early in his team’s opening World Cup match against England after clashing heads with a teammate. Beiranvand initially tried to continue playing despite the game being paused for several minutes as he received treatment following the collision with Majid Hosseini at the Khalifa International Stadium. Iranian team medics and captain Ehsan Hajisafi tended to the keeper. He appeared to be in discomfort with a bloody nose. Hajisafi splashed water on Beiranvand’s face at one point.

A new era is about to start for Spain at the World Cup as a generation of talented young players take center stage in its quest to win a second world title. Spain’s revamped squad is now led by teenagers like Pedri and Gavi. It will start being put to the test on Wednesday against an experienced Costa Rica team that is bringing back some of the players that helped it make a surprising run to the quarterfinals eight years ago in Brazil. Spain wants to avoid a repeat of the 2018 tournament in Russia when it was ousted by the host country in the last 16.

Kirk Cousins was sacked a career-high seven times in the Minnesota Vikings' 40-3 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. The Vikings lost 49 yards on those plays and finished with a season-low 183 total yards. Minnesota struggled from the outset, particularly against Micah Parsons and the Cowboys’ league-leading pass rush. Left tackle Christian Darrisaw, who hadn’t allowed a sack all season, surrendered two before leaving for the second straight week with a concussion. At one point, Minnesota had backups in at left tackle and left guard.

Only one of the thousands of Mexican fans expected to travel to Qatar can boast of having attended 10 World Cups and more than 450 matches for the country’s national team. His name is Héctor Chávez but he is better known as “Caramelo.” Chávez wears a black charro hat on his head, a green El Tri jersey and carries a Mexican flag with the letters of his native state of Chihuahua embroidered on the front. Chávez says “it’s a lot of sacrifice. I would say it’s even a Via Crucis for so many games I have attended.”

Coach Paulo Bento acknowledged there are hazards for last season’s Premier League joint top scorer Son Heung-min when he takes the field wearing a mask in the Group H opener against Uruguay in the World Cup. Son is South Korea’s best player, but he fractured his left eye socket on Nov. 2 in a Champions League match playing for his English club Tottenham. Uruguay is the favorite in this match and has a talent-rich team led by veterans Luis Sauarz, Edinson Cavani, and 24-year-old Real Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde. Suarez has scored seven World Cup goals. That is one short of the national record by Oscar Miguez from the 1950 winning World Cup team.

Gio Reyna, Joe Scally and Yusuf Musah were 11 years old the last time the United States took the field in a World Cup match. On the 3,066th day after that loss in Brazil, the Americans return to soccer’s showcase with a new-look team dreaming lofty goals. Filled with novelty, nerves and naivety, the U.S. takes the field against Wales on Monday night. A Friday match against England follows and group play ends Nov. 29 against Iran.

Following a trip to Germany and a bye week, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers are well rested to take on the reeling Browns. The Bucs have won two straight to move atop the pedestrian NFC South after dropping four of five. Brady is 7-1 in his career against Cleveland, with his only loss in 2010. The Bucs will look to exploit the Browns' awful rushing defense, which has given up at least 160 yards five times this season. This will be Browns quarterback Jacoby Brissett's final start before giving way to Deshaun Watson, who is eligible to play next week after serving his 11-game NFL suspension.

George Weah never got to play at the World Cup despite being one of soccer’s greats. He’s making sure he doesn’t miss his son’s opportunity. Weah is now the president of Liberia and is planning to be at the World Cup in Qatar to hopefully watch son Tim play for the United States. George Weah is expected to arrive in Qatar on Tuesday for a nine-day stay. That gives him the chance to be there when the U.S. takes on Wales in its opening game at the tournament on Monday.

There has been a chant doing the rounds among Saudi Arabia supporters and even some from Brazil in the fan parks and the streets of Doha at the World Cup. It goes, “Where is Messi? We We broke his eye!” It is a slang expression in Arabic meaning to bring shame on a person. Messi and his Argentina team are being mocked after their humbling 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia that has left their presence at the World Cup in big danger. Argentina needs to bounce back against Mexico on Saturday otherwise an embarrassing early exit awaits. Mexico opened with a 0-0 draw against Poland and has lost all three of its previous games against Argentina at World Cups.

Normally when the World Cup comes around, Germans happily wave their country’s flag and enthusiastically back their team. Not this time. Anyone walking around Berlin just days before the World Cup starts in Qatar on Sunday will struggle to notice any sign that the tournament is happening. There are no flags, no signs, no public viewing events. Bars are boycotting the tournament and many fans say they won't watch in protest against human rights abuses in Qatar.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.


Breaking News