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Eichel burns Sabres fans: 'It only took 7 years and me leaving for them to get into the game'

Ben Green / National Hockey League / Getty

Jack Eichel's postgame comments won't put him in the good books of Buffalo Sabres fans anytime soon.

The Vegas Golden Knights star received a mixed response from the KeyBank Center faithful in his first game back in Western New York on Thursday. Some cheered and some booed while his tribute video aired, but the overall volume caught Eichel by surprise.

"That's about the loudest I've heard this place, ever," Eichel said postgame, according to WKBW's Matt Bove. "It only took seven years and me leaving for them to get into the game."

During Eichel's first five years in Buffalo, the Sabres never ranked higher than 10th in average attendance but never lower than 20th. The club ranks 31st this season, according to ESPN.

The center offered a theory as to why some fans booed.

"There was plenty of people here that were supporting me, and there was plenty of people here that were booing me," he said. "They must just be booing me because they wish I was still here, I don't know."

Eichel and Buffalo had a falling out after the team refused to allow him to have his preferred artificial disc replacement surgery to replace a herniated disc in his neck suffered last campaign. The 25-year-old said on Thursday that it felt like the Sabres were "toying" with him.

In November, Buffalo eventually traded him to the Golden Knights, who allowed him to undergo his preferred surgery.

The Sabres selected Eichel second overall in 2015, and he recorded 355 points in 375 games with the franchise.

Buffalo spoiled Eichel's homecoming, however, winning 3-1 with goals from Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs - the two players received from Vegas in the trade.

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