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Sabres captain Jack Eichel on Bills: ‘I think it’s definitely motivation for us’

Sabres captain and Boston native Jack Eichel will undoubtedly never stop being a New England Patriots fan, but he’s blown away by the work being done this season by his other favorite NFL team.

The Buffalo Bills are heading to the playoffs as AFC East champions for the first time in 25 years – nearly 11 months before Eichel was born – and Eichel said there’s plenty of motivation to be drawn from them as the Sabres try to crack the postseason for the first time since 2011.

“We’re super happy that they’re doing so well and having success. It’s great to see them winning the division and doing as well as they are,” Eichel said on a video call with the Buffalo media on Wednesday, the day before the Sabres report to training camp in KeyBank Center. “It’s been a lot of fun to watch them. And it’s been pretty cool to see the city get behind them and be excited about their group and what they’re doing, and the potential they have. So I think it’s definitely motivation for us.”

The Bills endured an 18-year playoff drought that ended three years ago. The Sabres are trying to avoid a 10-year drought that would tie the all-time NHL record.

“We want to be successful. We want to produce a winning team and be in the playoffs and be a competitive group in our league,” Eichel said. “So yeah, I think that there’s definitely some motivation there. And I think we should use that as a way for us to try and be as good as we can and to achieve our goals of making the playoffs and trying to win a Stanley Cup.”

Eichel, of course, made it clear in May that he was “fed up” with the Sabres’ continued run of nonplayoff season. His opinion hasn’t softened.

“For sure I’m still fed up with losing. I don’t think that that ever changes,” he said. “I think any competitor wants to win. But I think I’ve tried to harness that as much as I can and use that in a productive manner to try and get better and prepare for the season.”