BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A New York Rangers podcast has been the talk of the town here in Buffalo for the last 24 hours.
Because Blueshirts Breakaway co-hosts Greg Kaplan and Ryan Mead purchased a billboard on the I-190, right near the KeyBank Center, urging the Sabres front office to finally end the Jack Eichel trade request saga.
“It comes from a place of being really tired of having to talk about Jack Eichel. Obviously we’re a Rangers podcast so we’re not dealing with it as much as a Buffalo perspective. I’m not saying we as Rangers fans are more tired of talking about Jack Eichel than Buffalo sports fans are,” Greg Kaplan said.
“But it’s close,” Ryan Mead said.
“It’s close. I think we’ve had to talk about him once a week, twice a week, every week since about last December,” Kaplan explained. “We were sitting around last week doing a show exclusive for our Patreon subscribers and it somehow dovetailed to ‘Should we just get a billboard for the podcast to celebrate our 300th episode? If we get a billboard, what would that billboard say? It would be about Jack Eichel right?’ Then I go, what if we just put it in Buffalo? And we just said free Jack Eichel on the billboard? So then here we are, somehow on Monday.”
“We got it done in 24 hours, well, 12 hours, really. We got it done with Lamar, so that was really nice,” Mead said.
There was no crowdfunding involved in the purchase of the tongue-in-cheek billboard; Mead and Kaplan paid for it all out of pocket to commemorate the 300th episode of their podcast.
The rift between Eichel and the Sabres started when he got injured in early March, and has only intensified since the captain opened up to the media during the end of season press conferences and explained that the organization has not allowed him to receive surgery on his injured neck.
With Eichel saying one thing and the Sabres front office saying another, the ongoing back-and-forth has kept everyone on edge, including NHL fans across the country like the Blueshirts Breakaway cohosts. The cheeky “Aren’t trade requests a pain in the neck?” is a slapshot to the Sabres to finally let go of the rope tied around Eichel.
“The message isn’t to the Sabres fans at all. We have nothing against the Sabres fans; actually, go Bills!” Mead said. “It’s really to the Buffalo Sabres organization. We’re all tired of this. We thought it was going to be done before the expansion draft, then we were hoping it would be done at the draft, then we were hoping shortly after the draft there’s no way they’ll get it done now, and now it’s August 16th at 8 p.m. and we’re still talking about Jack Eichel. Somehow. Still.”
“It’s not about continuing the conversation, it’s just saying to the Buffalo Sabres organization, just let it end. It doesn’t even have to be the Rangers, even though we’re a Rangers podcast. We would love to have Jack Eichel at a discounted price, who wouldn’t. But it’s not about that. It’s about moving on, healing,” Mead said.
The billboard will be live for two weeks, and Ryan and Greg say they hope this will be the final push for the Sabres to #FreeJack.