It’s no secret for the Golden Knights that if they want to have success, and ultimately raise the Stanley Cup, they are going to need to get the best out of Jack Eichel.
After being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres, Eichel was able to play in 34 games with the Golden Knights. He started out hot scoring five goals in his first 13 games including two game-winning goals. But he cooled off mightily down the stretch as he went scoreless in five of the team’s final six meaningful games and was held to just one point in that span.
Vegas lost all but one of those games and watch their playoff hopes slip right through their fingertips. Understandably, as a player whose career has been marred by regular season team failure, Eichel took the brunt of the blame. Over that span, he posted a -5 rating, missed all three of his shootout attempts, and was on the ice for seven goals against.
Fair or not, it didn’t look good for a player who has been criticized consistently over his career for being more focused on his offensive game than team success.
New head coach Bruce Cassidy is not shying away from the stigma that surrounds Eichel and he’s ready to step in and help.
You’ve got a high-end offensive player that hasn’t won and now he’s got to put the crest first. And I’m not saying he didn’t do that in Buffalo because I don’t know what happened there, but at the end of the day that will be the conversation. –Cassidy on TSN 1200
Cassidy elaborated in another interview.
It’s a matter of him valuing the team aspect, the team success, and what that does to your individual success. It may or may not take away from it, but knowing the (team’s success) is the most important thing. Our job now is to get him to learn how to play winning hockey and to relish that. –Cassidy on Sportsnet 590
Here’s how Cassidy intends on doing it.
It will be about how he can build his overall game and be our hardest working player in practice right there with Mark Stone and Alex Pietrangelo. Start with leadership skills and build his game from there, kind of from the inside out, and value keeping the puck out of his own net. We know what he can do offensively. It’s one thing to talk to a player and it’s another for a player to want to live it and that’s where I think Jack has to go through the process and we’re here to help him get through it. –Cassidy on TSN 1200
The relationship between Cassidy and Eichel will be paramount to the success of the Golden Knights. Cassidy has been critiqued in the past about his communication style with players while Eichel can’t seem to outrun his impact on his team’s lack of success.
The two both have something to prove and a symbiotic relationship between the pair is the only way it will work. If it does, Eichel and the Golden Knights may once again take the league by storm. If it doesn’t, it’s going to get ugly and it probably won’t take long to get there.