Sabres captain Jack Eichel kept his frustrations in check for the first 14 minutes of an end-of-season interview session with Buffalo-area reporters Thursday. It wasn’t until he was asked to assess the future of a team that’s not made the playoffs during his five-year tenure, when Eichel let loose. “Listen, I’m fed up with losing, and I’m fed up and I’m frustrated,” he said during a 27-minute Zoom call in which he was only able to dial in by phone. “It’s definitely not an easy pill to swallow right now. It’s been a tough couple of months. It’s been a tough five years with where things have went.” Eichel, 23, was celebrated as the franchise’s key building block after being selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft. He is also the franchise’s top-paid player in completing the second season of an eight-year, $80 million contract. Though Eichel made great strides playing to his potential in leading the Sabres both on and off the ice this season, he was let down by a floundering franchise which extended the NHL’s longest active playoff drought to a ninth consecutive year. What ate Eichel was how Buffalo couldn’t even qualify for the NHL’s expanded 24-team playoff format caused by the pandemic, and after vowing in February that the “wheels wouldn’t fall off,” as had happened in previous years. “[Teams] are gaining valuable, valuable experience as a group. And we’re not one of them,” he said. "So, it does add to the frustration.” . . . The New York Islanders have signed three former draft picks: center Felix Bibeau and right wing Cole Coskey signed AHL contracts while center Blade Jenkins signed an entry-level deal.
Williamson avoids answering suit
Attorneys for NBA rookie Zion Williamson seek to block his former marketing agent’s effort to have the ex-Duke star answer questions about whether he received improper benefits before playing for the Blue Devils. In a Florida court filing last week, Williamson’s attorneys say those questions are “nothing more than a fishing expedition aimed at tarnishing Williamson’s reputation" and designed to “maximize potential embarrassment and media coverage in an attempt to improperly gain settlement leverage.” It is the latest exchange in the fight over the No. 1 overall NBA draft pick’s endorsement potential. Prime Sports Marketing and company president Gina Ford filed her lawsuit last summer in Florida, accusing Williamson and the agency now representing him of breach of contract. Ford’s attorneys submitted questions this month asking whether the New Orleans Pelicans rookie or anyone on his behalf sought or accepted “money, benefits, favors or things of value” to sign with Duke.
Brown to cut varsity sports
Brown University president Christina H. Paxson announced the Providence-based Ivy League school will reduce its number of varsity sports from 38 to 29 in a move designed to make the Bears more competitive in conference play. Paxson said the decision was unrelated to the coronovirus outbreak, which has forced schools around the nation to slash athletic budgets. Brown will drop men’s and women’s fencing, men’s and women’s golf, women’s skiing, men’s and women’s squash, women’s equestrian and men’s indoor and outdoor track and cross country to club status. Coed sailing and women’s sailing will be elevated from club to varsity status. The university said an external review of the athletic program in 2018-19 found the high number of varsity sports was a barrier to competitiveness. In the preceding 10 years, Brown had won only 2.8 percent of all Ivy League championships, last in the league . . . Former Georgetown guard Mac McClung will play at Texas Tech after Davide Moretti’s departure from the Red Raiders to play professionally at home in Italy. Coach Chris Beard said Thursday the 6-foot-2-inch McClung had officially signed with the Red Raiders. The junior guard, who had put his name in the transfer portal after removing it from consideration from the NBA draft, has two seasons of eligibility remaining. McClung led the Hoyas with 15.7 points a game last season, while also averaging 3.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists. He played in only 21 of Georgetown’s 32 games because of a right foot injury.
Baffert horse Nadal injured
Nadal, one of trainer Bob Baffert’s early favorites for the Triple Crown, injured his ankle after a workout at Santa Anita and is out of contention for the series. The 3-year-old colt suffered a left front condylar fracture, Baffert said in a phone interview. It was diagnosed after Nadal completed a half-mile workout in 48.80 seconds. He had surgery during which two screws were inserted in his ankle at the track’s equine hospital . . . Margaret Maughan, who shot her way from her wheelchair into Paralympic history as Britain’s first gold medalist in archery in Rome in 1960, died May 20. She was 91. Maughan went on to medal six times at the Paralympics, winning four gold and two silver. Nick Webborn, chairman of the British Paralympic Association, announced her death. No further details were provided.