Does the young Buffalo Sabres superstar deserve the condemnation he is receiving from the local media about his apparent lack of maturity?
The sports media has this wonderful “gift” for being able to condemn, both with the benefit of hindsight and having often never been in the same position. I was reminded of this once again, with the recent criticism of the Buffalo Sabres‘ young superstar, Jack Eichel.
In particular, Mike Harrington’s comments regarding Eichel, made for interesting reading. The Buffalo News‘ columnist said he needs to grow up and stop acting like a moody teenager, especially if he is to become Sabres’ captain.
Now it should be pointed out that I have no issue with Harrington, who has enjoyed an excellent 30-year career with The Buffalo News. Further, he is essentially right in what he said about the 2015 second overall draft pick – he does need to mature, if he is going to extend his influence as the face of the Sabres’ franchise.
Regardless, it still feels like the criticism of Eichel — and not just from Harrington — is unfair. For a start, as mentioned above, the majority of the media finding fault with the youngster have never had to contend with his circumstance.
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It’s all very well saying the North Chelmsford, Massachusetts native shouldn’t have pouted in front of the media on locker cleanout day. Or that he needs to stop behaving like a teenager.
However, Eichel only just turned 20 last October – he pretty much is still a teenager. Weren’t most of us similarly moody and uninterested when we were around the same age?
Further, last time I checked, Harrington and most of the sports media were never in the same position at 20-year’s old. How many of them had to deal with living out their young lives in such a public way, being scrutinized for every action and each comment?
Of course, the standard response is to say Eichel is being well-rewarded and so he needs to suck it up. Again, this is essentially right, but it doesn’t change the fact he is being criticized about his lack of maturity by people who were never in the same position, especially at such a young age.
In the interest of objectivity and fairness, Harrington does mention how commendable he finds it that the center hates to lose. The Baseball Hall of Fame voter also admits the media have made a point of giving him plenty of rope during his first two seasons in the league.
And yet, it now almost sounds like they want to turn that rope into a noose. The media may not like the fact Eichel is petulant and does not want to be there, but once more, this is no different to your average youngster, no matter how much money they’re getting to act professionally.
Overall, it is probably best if the 2015 Hobey Baker Award doesn’t become Sabres captain just yet, because of the fact he still needs to mature into the role. However, to hold this behavior against him at this point of his career is ridiculous – give him time and he’ll naturally evolve into a better leader.
What’s your take on the criticism Eichel is receiving about a lack of maturity? Is it warranted, are the media being unfairly critical, or do you find fault on both sides? Share your thoughts in the comments section.