Sabres’ Okposo: I know I can play and not worry about hitting my head

Posted: 01/08/2017 in NHL, Sports
Tags: , , , ,
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“It’s been an interesting few months for me to say the least.”

That’s how Buffalo Sabres winger Kyle Okposo began an open letter posted on the team’s website in which he thanked all those who reached out during his time away from the ice and shed some light on the illness that forced him to be hospitalized and miss the end of the regular season.

It all started, Okposo explained, with a hard bump from a routine hit in practice, and climaxed following a game against the Florida Panthers on March 27, his last of the season.

Okposo had been losing sleep, and, after being removed from the lineup for a game the next night due to a lack of appetite, went to the hospital with the hope that doctors could help him get some rest.

He was given sleep medication that caused a negative reaction – including continued lack of sleep and rapid weight loss – and was later admitted to the Neuro Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Buffalo General in order to be stabilized.

After prioritizing time with family following his release, he’s now on the road back to the Sabres’ lineup, beginning with a stint in this summer’s Da Beauty League.

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.

Okposo added he feels great after playing in the Minnesota-based summer league, and can’t wait to get back to Buffalo to begin preparing for the team’s first season under new general manager Jason Botterill and new head coach Phil Housley.

The whole ordeal, however, has changed his outlook on his place in the game.

Dealing with an injury like this can change your perspective on life. It makes you evaluate what’s truly important. Hockey, of course, is extremely important to me. It’s my job, and it’s what I’ve done my whole life. But in saying that, I also don’t want hockey to define me as a person. I want to be somebody who is known as a good person first and foremost.

Okposo has six years remaining on his contract with the Sabres, and will carry a salary cap hit of $6 million through to the end of 2022-23.

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