Former NY Islander Kyle Okposo Raises His First Stanley Cup

2024 Stanley Cup Final - Game Seven
2024 Stanley Cup Final - Game Seven / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

After 17 seasons, the beloved NHL veteran Kyle Okposo hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career. The former NY Islanders alternate captain was traded to the Florida Panthers at the NHL trade deadline from the Buffalo Sabres and seemed to be the missing piece in the Florida locker room.

"I kind of took a leap of faith three and a half months ago, and this is what it was for,” noted Okposo on the ESPN/ABC broadcast after the win.

Okposo began his career on Long Island in 2007 after being drafted 7th overall in 2006. He is known as one of the best guys in the game, loved and admired by all who have the opportunity to play alongside him. Last night, this love was evident as social media was flooded with congrats and cheers for Okposo from Sabres and Islanders fans and current and former players. The consensus across the league has become that no one is more deserving to have his name on Lord Stanley than KO himself.

in 9 seasons on Long Island, Okposo scored 369 points in an Islanders uniform. Oksposo quickly became indispensable to the Islanders lineup, playing alongside John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Frans Nielsen. The Minnesota Native was named alternate captain in 2010 and served this role until he signed with the Sabres in 2016, a decision that was incredibly difficult for Okposo to make. He was loved by the Long Island community, and regularly gave back attending community events and happily meeting fans all over the island. His time with the Islanders solidified his legacy as a mentor and role model for players and fans. Many players noting that he taught them how to be men, leaders and even fathers.

What makes this win all the more special for the Okposo family is the fact that there was a time when his future in hockey seemed to be finished. The veteran forward has a prolonged history with concussions, and back in 2017 a hospitalization and manic episode had many believing he would never play hockey again. During a practice with the Sabres, Okposo suffered a traumatic head injury which led to a six week hospital stay due to psychosis and a manic episode.

Despite the hardships both mentally and physcially that the Oksposo family went through during this time, Kyle proved to the hockey world, and himself, that he belongs on the ice. Okposo returned to the Sabres lineup in the 2017-2018 season with the support of his family and the entire hockey world behind him. Despite having a lackluster season, only scoring 44 points (15G, 29A) and a -34, Okpsoso didn't give up.

The forward went on to play 5 and a half more seasons with teh Sabres before being traded to the Panthers on March 8th, 2024. After his injury, Okposo became even more of a leader and role model for his teammates and he was exactly the kind of on and off ice mentor that the Panthers needed for the playoffs.

After 17 seasons, 1051 regular season games and 614 points, Kyle Okposos is finally a Stanley Cup Champion. The entire hockey world can finally agree on something, there is no one more deserving to have his name engraved on the cup than Kyle Okposo.