It was a Wednesday in July and, upon walking into the Foxboro Sports Center, one couldn’t help but notice. A swarm of youth players were surrounding someone, though it was wasn’t immediately clear who. Their jaws were agape, awestruck even, at who stood before them. It was none other than Jack Eichel, the pride of North Chelmsford, Mass.
At 20, he’s still a year away from his first legal drink, but his impact on hockey in New England is undeniable. With every turn — starting with the Boston Junior Bruins, then two star-studded years at the U.S. National Team Development Program, a Hobey Baker Award-capped season at Boston University and now an NHL career with the Buffalo Sabres — he’s wowed fans and drawn admiration aplenty.
Along the way, his parents, Bob and Anne, have guided him through each bump in the road, all to a point where kids say, "I want to play like Jack." They might have seen him on the NHL Network, winning a Beanpot for BU at TD Garden, in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey or even that summer day down in Foxboro. Whatever the location, Eichel, ahead of what should be his senior year of college, recognizes how lucky he has it.