A series of videos that was published recently depicting Boston University golden boy Jack Eichel drinking beers and exclaiming “Buffalo, I’m comin’ for ya!” is, for whatever reason, making waves on the internet.
Eichel, whose gorgeous assist in overtime of the Beanpot Final against Northeastern on Monday won the prestigious trophy for the Terriers, is now starting to see what life under the microscope is like. Though McDavid deals with the constant attention of Canadian sports news, Eichel has been able to live in relative anonymity for the average American sports fan. College hockey, unfortunately, does not see nearly the same coverage in the United States that Major Junior hockey does in the Great White North.
Realistically, while Boston University might be a little upset that their star money-maker was caught on film possibly (probably) doing something illegal, it’s hard to imagine an NHL General Manager seeing a player drinking beer as an attitude issue.
Remember guys, this is the same NHL in which some teams actually still allow players to drink beer in the locker room after games. I’m also sure that anyone with any connection to an NHL player/coach/executive could tell you a story about numerous players who would maybe even put one back during intermission! Believe me, it happens.
So while five hours away a QMJHL player the same age as Eichel could legally purchase and drink alcohol with no repercussions, Eichel being an 18-year-old kid doing things an 18-year-old kid does has him in hot water. The original source of these videos went so far as to compare Eichel to Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, who checked himself into rehab after a string of alcohol-influenced incidents and an interesting picture that one would assume was taken just moments before using hard drugs.
Here’s the harsh truth: hockey players drink beer. For whatever reason, beer and hockey have gone hand-in-hand for decades, and that won’t stop anytime soon. If you need any more proof, think back to when Matt Puntereri and Jesse Felton fought in a Federal Hockey League game last season, and then shared a beer on the ice.
There are hundreds of underage American junior/college hockey players who will have a couple of beers after a weekend of tough games, and no one will care because they’re not Jack Eichel. While I admit my bias, having interviewed Eichel in the past and knowing him as a very serious and driven hockey player at the rink, everyone needs to wind down sometimes. The type of people who are upset about these things are the same people who screamed that the Blackhawks should have traded Patrick Kane after a handful of alcohol-related incidents. And what happened there? After a few years in the NHL, Kane matured and stopped hitting the bars as hard. Eichel will still go first or second, and will grow up like the rest of them do.