You love to see a story when good things happen to good people. On Saturday afternoon, the Buffalo Sabres named former NY Islanders forward Kyle Okposo the 20th captain in Buffalo franchise history.
Okposo was drafted by the Islanders in the first round of the 2006 NHL Entry draft seventh overall. He went on to play eight-plus seasons with the Islanders, making his NHL debut in the 2007-08 season. In the 2013-14 season, Okposo scored a career best 27 goals and 69 points in 71 games played. In 529 games as an Islander, Okposo scored 139 goals and 369 points.
At the conclusion of the 2015-16 season, Okposo left the Islanders in unrestricted free agency and signed a seven year, $42 million contract. Recently, in an interview with Barstool Sports Spittin Chiclets, Okposo explained that the Islanders never even extended him an offer to remain on Long Island and watching them play no longer a member of the team was "devastating."
"When you switch teams, you kinda want them to suck a little bit. It's a normal reaction. When I left the team I was devasted."- Kyle Okposo
After leaving the Islanders, Okposo went through a series of ups and downs, including a situation that Okposo explained was "career threatening" when he was rushed to a neuro intensive care unit with an undisclosed medical condition in April of 2017. After recovering and receiving a clean bill of health, Okposo opened up about the situation to the Associated Press:
"I’ve worked with a lot of different people — concussion experts and people who have dealt with concussions themselves — and I feel confident in the fact that I can play hockey again. In fact, I know I can play again. I know I can play and not worry about hitting my head, which is a major hurdle for someone who’s dealt with this. If I didn’t feel 100 percent right now, that probably wouldn’t be the case."- Kyle Okposo
After a few down seasons since then, Okposo had a bounce-back season last year scoring 21 goals and 45 points. After the departure of Jack Eichel, the Sabres have been without a captain. Although the Sabres are a mostly young team, they're on the upswing and Sabres GM Kevyn Adams explains why Okposo was the obvious choice:
"It's impossible to overstate what Kyle has meant to this group - he is patient, he is a lifelong learner, he is levelheaded, and most of all, he is proud to be a Buffalo Sabre. When times get difficult, Kyle knows when to speak up, and when he does, the team takes it to heart. Kyle and his family have made Buffalo their home and want to see our organization succeed, both on and off the ice. I am proud that Kyle will represent our organization with class and dignity."- Kevyn Adams
Okposo explained that he felt a sense of responsibility to the organization after they commited to him long-term:
"For frankly more money than I thought I would ever make, I felt like it created a sense of duty in me that I had to this organization, and that's kind of how it started. It's left a really special place in my heart where I want this place to succeed. I want the Sabres to succeed. I know how difficult it's been at times for sports fans in this city and for the people in this city because so much of life is connected to the Bills and the Sabres. And I feel that every day, especially when I'm here in the summer and even in the winters."- Kyle Okposo