BUFFALO, N.Y. [WKBW] — Buffalo Sabres captain Jack Eichel is fed up and frustrated. That's been the theme after all five or his seasons with the blue and gold but this time around, he didn't mince words.
"I'm a competitive guy, I want to win everything I do," Eichel said. "It’s been five years here and I haven’t played in the playoffs, so, it’s difficult, it’s tough."
The 23-year-old center spoke with reporters for the first time since he and his teammates learned the news that they'd once again miss the playoffs. This year with the expanded 24-team format, it stings even more for Eichel and his teammates.
"I’m definitely not in the greatest place with where the last little bit went and it’s definitely worn on me," Eichel added. “It’s been a tough couple months. It’s been a tough five years with where things have went."
In 2019-2020, Eichel finished the regular season with 78 points in 68 games, putting him in the conversation for the Hart Trophy awarded to the league MVP. He did admit his team made progress this season, but it wasn't close to enough.
"I’m a competitor, I want to win every time I got out on the ice. I want to win the Stanley Cup every time I start a season.”
Buffalo won't have a chance to do that for the ninth straight season. In NHL history, only five other teams have missed the playoffs night straight times.
Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who like Eichel has spent his entire career in Buffalo was blunt, yet spot on, when discussing the Sabres outlook in years to come.
"Buffalo has a bright future but we’ve been saying the bright future for seven years now," Ristolainen said with a smirk.
Despite seven full seasons in the NHL, Ristolainen is still just 25-years-old. The Finnish defender has been the center of trade rumors for years, and knows those will continue this summer. When asked if he wanted to be traded, Ristolainen did his best to answer, without saying yes or no.
“I want to win, whether it’s in Buffalo or somewhere else."
Eichel, Ristolainen, and the rest of their teammates will now be watching as 24 other teams compete for a Stanley Cup. It's not anything new to them, but that's the problem.