With Monday’s news that Kyle Okposo is out again with his fourth concussion since 2016, it feels like a sad curtain is possibly falling on his career.
Concussions and CTE research are stronger than ever, showing how awful the effects are of brain injuries.
Okposo wrote a scary but well-detailed piece of what he went through back in 2017-18 after one of his concussions and the effort needed to recover. Concussions and brain injuries are no joke and need to be considered with the greatest seriousness possible which is why this feels like it could be it for Okposo.
When the Sabres signed Okposo in the summer of 2016, he was looked as the finishing piece for the Sabres top-six forward group. He was coming off a 22-goal, 64-pt campaign with over 67 goals and 184 pts in 200 games during the previous three years. At 28 years old, he still was in his prime and with Jack Eichel and Ryan O’Reilly at center it seemed like a slam dunk for good production.
Unfortunately, we never saw that production. As the Sabres toiled in turmoil over the years, Okposo was limited by injuries and concussions at times. You could see he did not look right playing during portions of seasons. He did make the all-star game in 2016-17, but he missed a month’s worth of time after.
Okposo is the last remnant of Tim Murray’s core that he built. He is, in a sense, the last reminder of the early hopes Sabre fans had with Eichel and O’Reilly at the start and the failed expectations which followed. Okposo is a wonderful community leader and a great person in general. His performance on the ice never matched expectations, but you cannot deny his impact off the ice.
While Okposo has not lived up to the free-agent contract many had in mind, he certainly has been one of the few good and wise leaders this locker room has had. Sabres fans saw what happened to Pat LaFontaine after numerous hits and now with Okposo, you just want to tell him to stop.
LaFontaine forced his way out of Buffalo when the Sabres wouldn’t let him play because of his concussion history after his last one in 1997. Now with more data and research than ever, you just hope he can walk away without being forced. Sports, in the end, are for our entertainment, granted for a long time as a Sabre fan it’s felt more like torture.
Okposo has had a productive career and while his time in Buffalo has not gone as planned, he has been a good soldier.
It remains to be seen how this concussion will impact him and how long it may keep him out, but it’s important for him to take all the time he needs and be with his family. It really is terrible news for a guy who just wants to continue playing hockey and has already overcome so much.
However, it feels like this is possibly it for Okposo and you can only hope he sees that light also.