Sochi Snub: Stepan Chosen For Olympics Over Okposo

 Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

So, apparently 40 points this season, points in 7 straight and 12 of your last 15 is not enough to show you belong on an Olympic team.

As you know by now, the USA Olympic team was announced yesterday. It had a number of glaring omissions. For our purposes, let’s focus on Kyle Okposo.

Kyle is having a breakout season. He has 15 goals and 25 assists in 41 games. He has scored goals in 2 straight and has points in 7 in a row. He’s 12th in the league in scoring, and 2nd among Americans.

Let’s begin with the decision maker, David Poile. The Nashville Predators head honcho has been an NHL GM for 31 consecutive years. He has zero Stanley Cups. He has never even been at the helm of a team that reached the Stanley Cup Finals. His Predators currently sit in last place in the Central Division. But, somehow USA Hockey decided he was a great fit for the GM position. Poile decided that Okposo “just isn’t built for big ice”. That according to Scott Burnside of ESPN.com. Burnside also states the popular belief is that Okposo will never really get his shot at Team USA.

Just a reminder to David Poile, Kyle Okposo played in an Olympic sized rink at the University of Minnesota! (Thanks to Kevin Schultz of IslandersPointBlank for that little tidbit).

Now that we have seen the man that has made the ridiculous decision to leave Kyle off the team, let’s look at whom he chose instead.

Here is the main target of the ire of Islanders fans. Derek Stepan. Some people say that it’s unfair to compare the two, because they are two different types of players. That’s all well and good, but if you’re going to make the Olympic team, you need to show that you can get back once in a while.  The US already has a 2-way forward in David Backes. No need to fill the team with 3rd line talent.

Let’s take a look at Stepan’s stats vs Okposo’s shall we?

Let’s start with the biggest picture overall, career stats:

  • Stepan: 253 GP 63 Goals, 102 Assists
  • Okposo: 360 GP,87 Goals, 138 Assists

Kyle definitely has the advantage overall, how about this season?

2013-14

  • Stepan:  41 GP, 7 Goals, 18 Assists,2 PPG, 1 GWG
  • Okposo: 41 GP, 15 goals, 25 Assists, 3 PPG, 2 GWG

Looks like Okposo again.

How about ice time?

  • Stepan: 18:46 average ice time
  • Okposo: 19:59 average ice time

Kyle Okposo spends more time being involved in the game than Derek Stepan.

Here’s a great stat, Shots & Shot Percentage:

  • Stepan:  101 shots, 6.9% shooting percentage
  • Okposo: 105 shots, 14.3% shooting percentage.

That is an astonishing difference.

Frankly, we could go on all day, but the omission of Okposo in favor of Stepan is astounding. Sure, there are plenty of other bubble players. Some made it, some did not. Bobby Ryan, Keith Yandle, Ben Bishop & Jason Pominville also should be pretty upset about getting left off the team.

If you think we are the only ones upset about this decision, check out what Islanders broadcaster Butch Goring had to say about the blatant omission of Okposo on his Twitter account:

What a joke the US Olympic team selection process. Team was picked a long time ago, Kyle Okposo never had a chance, never mind team 1st.

There has been a lot of strong reaction online about the Okposo omission from fans. Every reaction from, “The Islanders continue to get no respect around the league” to “Go Canada” has been uttered by angry fans.

I don’t know how many people are truly serious about not rooting for the US, but many people seem to agree that this team is not nearly as good as it should or could have been. We will all probably root for the US in the long run, but this stinks. It’s just another instance where the Islanders, or an Islanders, gets the short end of the stick. It likely won’t end until the Islanders once again sit atop the NHL.

I feel for Kyle Okposo. He wanted this very badly, and he deserved it. But, on the bright side, Kyle is just 25 years old. In 4 years, the Winter Olympics will head to the hockey hotbed of  Pyeongchang, South Korea. At that time, Kyle will be 29 years old and right in the prime of his career. If the year he is having now is any indication, he will be a lock for 2018.

Rest up Kyle, the Islanders are making a second half run and they can’t do it without you.

 

-EB

Tags: 2014 Sochi Olympic Games Derek Stepan Kyle Okposo New York Islanders Team Usa

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