After more than 900 NHL games, Kyle Okposo is a captain.
The Buffalo Sabres named Okposo the 20th full-time captain in franchise history late Saturday afternoon. Zemgus Girgensons and Rasmus Dahlin are the two alternate captains.
Okposo has spent the past five seasons in Buffalo as an alternate captain. The right winger also wore the ‘A’ for the New York Islanders from 2009 to 2016.
“I want the Sabres to succeed,” Okposo said on Saturday. “I know how difficult it’s been at times for sports fans in this city and for the people in this city because so much of life is connected to the Bills and the Sabres. And I feel that every day, especially when I’m here in the summer and even in the winters.”
The 34-year-old has amassed 564 points in 909 career NHL games – 195 points and 380 games with the Sabres.
This decision came to little surprise after Okposo and Girgensons were the two main alternate captains last season, with Dahlin being an alternate on select games near the end. The committed Okposo lives full-time in western New York with his family who have grown in size and age over the past six years as a Sabre.
Buffalo has not had a captain since they stripped Jack Eichel of the captaincy last season. Because of Eichel’s neck injury and a disagreement between player and team on how to treat it, Buffalo hasn’t had a captain on the ice in a regular season game since March 7, 2021.
Sabres GM Kevyn Adams spoke of Okposo’s value at a team event on Saturday.
“It’s impossible to overstate what Kyle has meant to this group – he is patient, he is a lifelong learner, he is levelheaded, and most of all, he is proud to be a Buffalo Sabre,” Adams said. “When times get difficult, Kyle knows when to speak up, and when he does, the team takes it to heart.”
Okposo has dealt with his fair share of difficult times. He’s missed games due to four concussions throughout his time with Buffalo, including one during a practice in 2017 that went unnoticed for days until Okposo was forced to spend time in the neurological intensive care unit at Buffalo General Hospital.
But as Adams said, Okposo knows when to speak up – not just to his teammates, but to his fans.
Okposo wrote an open letter to Sabres fans after the 2017 hospitalization, telling the story of his injury and how special the “500 messages” and support waiting for him meant.
He’s written multiple more letters to fans, including one at the end of this past season about the positive memories among the ups-and-downs in 2021-22, including honoring the legendary Sabres’ commentator, Rick Jeanneret.
“I can feel the excitement around town,” Okposo wrote at the time. “When I talk to people, many of them reference how they can see our team chemistry. That bond did not happen accidentally.”
Okposo said on Saturday not to expect anything different from him now that he’s captain.
“That letter, I don’t think, got stitched on my jersey because of what I could do,” he said. “It’s based on, I think, what I’ve done and what I’ve tried to do and how I’ve acted. So, I’m not going to change anything about what I’ve been doing.”
- Kyle Okposo Named 20th Captain in Buffalo Sabres History
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