In a wide-ranging interview with Barstool Sports Spittin Chiclets, former New York Islanders first-round pick and current Buffalo Sabres alternate captain Kyle Okposo talks extensively about his time on Long Island, including what he learned from John Tavares, being a rookie with veterans Doug Weight and Billy Guerin, Garth Snow becoming GM and his love for the Nassau Coliseum.
On relationship with John Tavares
"He taught me a lot about what it takes to work. There's nobody that is more dialed in than this guy."
After a tough year during the lockout season, Okposo stayed with Tavares and observed his diet and how he went about his business. "I'm not going to be average anymore. I hated where I was at and I wanted to just be an excellent player and not be average."
When asked if he was surprised that Tavares left for Toronto in 2018, Okposo talked about how hockey is a religion in Toronto and the appeal there was to be a difference maker and bring home their first cup in over 50 years. "Johnny wasn't planning on leaving, but I think the pull (to Toronto) subconsciously was just too strong."
On memories of the Nassau Coliseum
"When we played Pittsburgh in the playoffs ... we were staying in the Marriott across the street. I woke up at 7am and the parking lot was packed."
"We get off the ice for warmups and the benches were shaking the locker room. It's just an old school barn and it's still the loudest rink I ever played in, that game, Game 3."
On first NHL goal versus Martin Brodeur without a helmet
Okposo was checked by the Devils' Mike Mottau and his helmet was knocked off, perhaps because he had just shaved his head for charity. After the goal, which broke a 1-1 tie late in the 3rd period, Richard Park, who picked up the primary assist, thought the rookie had taken his helmet off to celebrate.
On 'old school' veterans Bill Guerin and Doug Weight
"There was no shortage of laughter in the room that's for sure. These guys (Weight and Guerin) were old school. The way they go back and forth with each other, non-stop laughter."
"We'd land somewhere and Billy would be like 'everybody to this bar, mandatory one beer. You can stay for one or you can stay for 20' it was cool."
On Garth Snow being named General Manager
If you thought a lot went into the thinking of Charles Wang naming Garth Snow the Islanders' General Manager, you would be wrong. Okposo tells how it happened and how Snow learned the job he would hold for 12 seasons on the fly after a recommendation to Wang from Rick DiPietro.
On watching the Islanders recent playoff runs
Okposo never received an offer from the Islanders when he became a UFA after the 2015-16 off-season. The team had put up back-to-back 100-point seasons and advanced in the playoffs for the first time since 1993 but restructured the roster letting Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and Matt Martin leave in free agency.
"I had eye surgery, a detached retina a year and a half before and I think they were. a little concerned about that. They didn't offer me a deal. It was hard leaving."
"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." The Islanders missed the playoffs the two seasons after Okposo departed for Buffalo, with both Jack Capuano and Weight being let go.
"But I wanted them to do well. When they lost to Tampa Bay in Game 7 ... I was going to Game 1 of the Finals. I already texted their PR guy I was going. There are still a lot of guys I care about on that team."