NHL Star Jack Eichel is ‘a Huge Keith Fan’
LOWELL -- Keith Aucoin didn’t know it at the time, but a young fan was watching his every move when he played for the Lowell Lock Monsters.
The kid would beg his father to buy tickets to see the American Hockey League team play at the Tsongas Center.
Jack Eichel was in awe that someone from his town, Chelmsford, could play pro hockey at a high level.
“I used to wear a red helmet because of him,” Eichel said. “He wore No. 11 for a little bit so I wore No. 11 for a little bit.”
Eichel is no longer a kid. He’s 21 and about to begin his fourth season with the Buffalo Sabres as one of the National Hockey League’s greatest talents.
But Eichel is still a major fan of Aucoin, who has retired after a sparkling 17-year pro career.
“The ageless wonder retired,” Eichel said Tuesday from Buffalo, N.Y. “I was a huge Keith fan. It’s amazing where his career has taken him. It doesn’t matter where he played, he produced. Just so reliable.”
Aucoin played 30 games for Lowell during the 2001-02 season and 72 games for the Lock Monsters in 2005-06.
Eichel is aware that Aucoin decided to hang up his skates after winning a championship with his German professional team last season.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said.
As Eichel grew older, Aucoin became a mentor. One night, when Eichel was about 14, Aucoin drove him to Hingham to skate with a bunch of NHL players who were sharpening their skills during the summer.
“Everybody you talk to has great things to say about him,” Eichel said. “He hasn’t changed a bit.”