Kyle Okposo has been sent home for medical evaluation and now needs to give serious thought about his future with the Buffalo Sabres and hockey in general.
When Kyle Okposo went to free agency in the summer of 2016, he was arguably the most sought after player around the NHL. When he decided to sign for the Buffalo Sabres, it was perceived as a significant step towards making the franchise relevant again.
Now though, just three seasons into his seven-year, $42 million deal, you have to wonder if Okposo would be best served walking away from the game of hockey altogether. As per John Vogl of The Athletic, the former New York Islander has flown home to Buffalo for medical evaluation.
Last Friday, Okposo was floored by a single punch from New York Rangers’ blue liner Anthony DeAngelo during the third period of the Sabres’ 6-2 loss. As noted by Vogl, the winger met with his athletic trainer in New Jersey on Sunday, before the decision was made to send him back to Western New York.
Okposo did not practice on Monday, but coach Phil Housley wasn’t able to provide much detail. As reported by Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News, Housley said:
"“Kyle is back in Buffalo getting further evaluated…I don’t have any information up to this point, but he went back to Buffalo to get further evaluated by our doctors.”"
More from Buffalo Sabres
- Buffalo Sabres and Victor Olofsson making progress on contract extension
- Buffalo Sabres still need goaltender help despite re-signing Anderson
- Buffalo Sabres: Time to close book on the Jack Eichel chapter
- Buffalo Sabres receiving interest in members of defensive core
- Buffalo Sabres focused on youth during another disastrous season
The caution and concern by the Sabres is certainly understandable. Everyone connected with the team still remembers a scary incident involving Okposo in March 2017.
At the time, the 30-year-old was sidelined after complaining of an illness. He was then rushed into Buffalo General Hospital’s neurosurgical intensive care unit, to undergo a series of tests.
Let’s go with the hopeful best case scenario that there is nothing seriously wrong with Okposo and he is going to recover quickly. Even in this instance, you can make a strong case that the Sabres should sit him out for the remainder of this season.
With the increased attention paid to CTE, you can never be too cautious. Anything related to head issues has to be taken seriously.
In this respect, especially taking into account Okposo’s history, the last thing he should be doing is rushing back to play a physical game such as hockey. No matter how much he might love the sport, there are other things much more important.
Yes, you might be a long time retired, but your want to spend that retirement enjoying a high quality of life. Continuing to play hockey, only puts yourself at more risk of losing this.
For some, Okposo hasn’t performed to his usual level since the incident in 2017. (In fact, this season is set to be one of the worst in his entire NHL career.) In fairness, this isn’t surprising, considering what he went through at the time.
The Buffalo Sabres need to do the smart thing and shut the 2006 seventh overall draft pick down right away. Then he should be reevaluated after the conclusion of the 2018-19 campaign, so he can decide whether or not it’s worth continuing to play full stop.
Update: The Sabres’ PR department have confirmed Okposo has been diagnosed with a concussion. He is now out indefinitely.
Even if Okposo is cleared to return to action sooner than later, should the Buffalo Sabres shut him down for the rest of this season? Do you agree it is time for him to seriously consider walking away from hockey altogether? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.