As cornerstone New York Islanders forward Kyle Okposo departs Long Island for Buffalo, this fan just says ‘thank you’.
This is a hard letter to write and it’s harder to write today than it was yesterday and the day before. Time and distance are supposed to be healing powers, but as fans in sports, we have the luxury of sentimentality. Our attachments to our heroes are something separate from our team and the game, and severing that is not always an easy task. Our ‘we’ is now different from your ‘we’ and it hurts because of that attachment.
There is always going to be different ways of reacting to goodbyes, but this is one of gratitude. You see, I’m a mother of boys and my house has always been ruled by Devils. I was always the lone fish in a sea of red and it wasn’t until I took my youngest to the Coliseum and he saw you play for the first time did that begin to change. Little by little he watched more games with me, asked more questions about you. I took him to the Coliseum again two years ago and you gave him a high five and that solidified it for him. He was a New York Islanders fan.
It was a simple gesture and his was just one hand in a parade of others, but it meant so much to him that he asked me for your shirt. He got it for Christmas, and last season you signed it for him. Again, he was just one boy in the midst of a bunch of others, but he could barely speak to you that day because he was so nervous just to meet you.
There are dozens of plays on the ice that we can thank you for. The game-changing fight with Matt Niskanen in that playoff series against the Penguins. How about the game winning goal against San Jose that broke that awful 2013 losing streak? There’s also that four-goal game against Pittsburgh and man, did we ever love watching you play the Penguins. There’s really no end to the list on the ice and we’ll miss that.
The on-ice stuff is a given, though. What we’ll miss more is what you brought – the doggedness, determination, and your very best you. We’ll miss the high-fives, smiles, and that little extra patriotism because you were always team USA.
These are good things to miss and we thank you for the years of them you gave.
A fan in Jersey (and a kid who may just root for the Sabres a little now)