In the first intermission of Tuesday’s Golden Knights and Kings game ESPN analyst and hockey legend Mark Messier made some interesting observations after only 20 minutes played into the 2022-23 season. The six-time Stanley Cup winner was critical of Jack Eichel’s patented passive attitude.
I love Jack Eichel, I think he’s one of the most talented players in the league. It’s a massive year for him. I’d like for him to come out and say ‘I want to be the best player in the league and I want to win a Stanley Cup’ and take the assertiveness that the team wants to see on and off the ice. He doesn’t have to be apologetic for saying he wants to be the best player in the league and win a Stanley Cup. Massive year for Jack Eichel. -Mark Messier, Hall of Famer & ESPN analyst
Some would argue Eichel’s mild demeanor is an important element of his success. The 25-year-old has never suited up for a postseason series, and yet he’s done an admirable job of covering up past frustrations. The Messiah believes it is time for Eichel to put that behind him and act more brash and cocky.
Messier made his remarks after Eichel’s intermission interview. Keep in mind, ESPN aired this interview twice to highlight Messier’s pronouncement.
I just want to try and play well every night and help this team win hockey games. Whether it’s helping offensively or defensively, whatever it is. Just try and win hockey games. -Jack Eichel on ESPN
In no way was Messier challenging Eichel’s character, the ESPN analyst simply stated it’s time to drive a team to a Stanley Cup Final. And it wasn’t just him. Even Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Chelios echoed Messier’s plea. The former Red Wing acknowledged Eichel’s steady play but demanded a full season of success.
He’s been in the league long enough, he has to understand now what his role has to be. He’s got to be a leader and he has to sound like a leader. -Chris Chelios, Hall of Famer & ESPN analyst
Right on cue, Eichel later broke an early 3rd period tie, which the two hockey greats acknowledged. In 120 minutes of play the Golden Knights top offensive weapon has one goal, took nine shots on skated 33 minutes.
That’s what any reasonable analyst could ask for after only two games.
Could Messier’s critique have any influence on Eichel? He’s realistic and understands Connor McDavid is the best player in the NHL, and he’s not interested in distracting or alienating his team. Both show signs of being a great teammate focusing solely on winning and not giving a bleep what former players have to say. Stating he’s the best player in the league would only draw confusion.
Then again, Mess did win six Cups.