On Saturday evening, the Buffalo Sabres made the announcement we’d all been waiting for, naming Kyle Okposo as the 20th full-time captain in franchise history. Rasmus Dahlin and Zemgus Girgensons will serve as alternates.
Okposo, 34, certainly seems like the logical choice for the leadership role. He’s already been a proven leader on the team, on the ice, in the locker room and in the community. The Sabres have posted videos before of Okposo calling players after they were drafted, welcoming them to Buffalo. Earlier this year, Okposo was among the professional athletes who visited the East Side community after May’s mass shooting.
He’s also the first one that GM Kevyn Adams called to let him know that the Sabres had signed both Eric Comrie and Ilya Lyubushkin. (This clip appeared in the Sabres: Embedded video about free agency.) Even that, a simple phone call, showed how much respect Adams has for Okposo and hinted at his potential captaincy and the weight and value he holds to upper management.
As someone on Twitter said, Kyle Okposo is the captain the Sabres need right now. What that means next season or longer-term, who knows — but that’s not the focus at the present moment, and that’s okay. Okposo very much seems to buy into the team’s culture, and emphasis on players who want to be here. He (and his family) are clearly enjoying their time here. All of those things may seem small, but they add up and mean a lot.
Dahlin being named an alternate captain makes sense. From the day he was drafted, much was expected of him. He’s grown into his role over the years, and his presence on the ice speaks to a young leader who is well-respected among his peers.
I’ll admit, I was a little surprised to see Zemgus Girgensons receive the other A, if only because I anticipated it going to either Dylan Cozens or Alex Tuch. That said, Girgensons has been in the Sabres organization for over ten years now, and he’s the longest-tenured player in the organization. He’s paid his dues over the years & been with the team through the rough times, so giving him a letter is absolutely reasonable.
The other point to make is that of course, a player can be a leader without having an extra letter on his jersey. There are a handful of leaders in that locker room this season. and regardless of whether they wear the C, or an A, or no letter at all, they each provide some kind of valuable contribution to the team and its successes.