Sabres' Okposo is back practicing after a concussion

Kyle Okposo will not play on Monday against the Devils

Paul Hamilton
December 02, 2019 - 12:55 pm
Kyle Okposo

Photo: Charles LeClaire - USA TODAY Sports

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - In the game against Ottawa back on Nov. 16, Kyle Okposo came off the bench for his shift and accidently ran into defenseman Ron Hainsey.

Okposo has missed eight games with a concussion and won’t play against New Jersey. However, he was on the ice with his teammates for the first time on Monday and the winger said, “It was good to just skate with the guys again. It was a little over two weeks, so I was getting antsy, but it felt great to be back out there.”

Okposo said he had been skating since Wednesday.

Okposo has been in some really dark places due to concussions and almost lost the way of life that he knows. With that in mind, every time he gets one, it’s scary, “It’s not a fun place to be, and it’s super emotional after the game and I just went home and really thought about a lot of things. So I’ve been through some dark times with it and the thought of going back there... it’s not fun. It’s a very uneasy feeling, but I’m fortunate enough to have the right people around me and have to people to lean on to know I’m going to get better.”

When asked if retirement crept into his mind, Okposo got emotional, “It’s something that you think about post-career, and that’s the first thing that pops into my head, as I’m sure it did with a lot of people that know my history.

“When these things keep happening repeatedly, I just want answers that I’m going to be OK later. I don’t have a crystal ball and nobody else has a crystal ball, but I saw the right people and I got the information that I needed to hear to continue to play.”  

With the experience Okposo has had with head injuries, there was no doubt where this was going, “I knew right away that it wasn’t good, and I’ve unfortunately been down this road enough to know what to look for with symptoms and I just knew right away that the neck wasn’t good.”

If you’ve had multiple concussions, you know that each one is different. Okposo knows the same thing, “This response was different. The emotions were different, the feelings were different and I think that’s the thing about concussions - they’re never really the same. So waiting for it to subside, you’re contemplating a lot of different things, but once I did turn the corner I improved quickly.”

Okposo would like to play against the Devils, but hopes to be back in the Western Canada road trip. Ralph Krueger said not so fast, “Don’t expect him back for a while. This is a process we need to be careful with, and for us, he’s still a ways away from any type of contact.”

The home opener was a 7-2 victory over the Devils. Buffalo fell on tough times in November, but it did finish the month 2-1-2, which is picking up 60% of their points. The Sabres' overall points percentage is .537, which is 18th in the league.

Jack Eichel is seventh in league scoring with 35 points in 27 games. His 16 goals are also seventh. Eichel has points in nine straight games and has scored eight goals and 16 points in that time.

Linus Ullmark is likely in goal. He’s 2-0-1 in his last three starts, but he has given up nine goals. Buffalo is 7-2-3 on home ice, and are 2-1-2 in their last five here.

New Jersey has lost four out of six games, and is 29th in the league with a points percentage of .440.

Taylor Hall has just four goals in 25 games this season, but he does have 17 assists. Kyle Palmieri and Blake Coleman both lead the team with nine goals.

With Cory Schneider being sent down to the AHL, Mackenzie Blackwood is 8-7-3 with a 3.12 goals-against average and .898 save percentage.

Join Mike Schopp at 6:00 for the pregame live from (716) Food and Sport when he’ll be joined by Krueger, Okposo and Marcus Johansson.

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