One of the biggest questions surrounding the Buffalo Sabres toward the end of the season was what had happened to Kyle Okposo, and would he fully recover before the end of the year or over the offseason?
Today, Okposo himself wrote a letter on Sabres.com explaining what had happened, and expressing his gratitude toward the team and all his fans for supporting him through this difficult time. The letter is well-written and definitely worth a read, and it sheds some light on what Okposo went through during his injury and recovery.
On his injury:
It all started with a routine hit in practice on a normal play. Just a hard bump. In fact, the play was so common that I sort of just brushed it off without thinking much of it.
But in the ensuing days, my mood began to change. I didn't notice, but the people around me did. By the time we were playing our game against Florida on March 27, I had been having trouble sleeping for a couple of days already. My senses for some reason were worsening with each passing day. I thought I was just overtired.
That game against Florida would end up being my last of the season.
This finally answers the question of how Okposo was injured initially. The rest of the letter also gives a scary glimpse into how much we still have left to understand about concussions and brain injuries.
As Okposo continued to lose both sleep and weight at an alarming rate, he was finally admitted to the Neuro Surgical ICU of Buffalo General Hostpital.
Intensive care is a scary place to be, but I needed a place where I could be stabilized. My doctors felt that the Neuro Surgical ICU at Buffalo General was the best place for that to happen. I can't thank the doctors, nurses and staff at Buffalo General enough. The people there that took care of me were exceptional. It's impossible for me to overstate my support for them and for everything that they do.
The hockey community is a tight-knight one, and Buffalo more than many, so it isn’t surprising that Okposo had a ton of support and well-wishes from his friends, teammates, and coaches.
When I turned my phone on, I had 500 messages waiting for me. Current players, former players, former coaches - everyone reached out. Even now, fans see me in Minnesota or Buffalo and say, 'I'm just really glad you're doing OK.' It's overwhelming, and it makes me proud to be a part of the hockey community. We're a tight-knit group and we stick together. Thinking about your support brings a tear to my eye.
The letter ends with the most important part - that Okposo is healthy first and foremost, and also that he’s confident that he’ll be able to play next season at 100%.
In the meantime, 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.
Good on the Sabres and Okposo for communicating so openly with their fans here, and obviously we’re all extremely happy that Kyle is healthy. Okposo was a key piece of the Sabres offensive plan last year, and was among the team leaders in goals and points at the time of his injury, so the fact that we’ll get to see him on the ice again next year playing for the Blue and Gold makes this letter even sweeter.