The Buffalo Sabres wasted little time netting of the biggest free agent catches available on July 1 when they signed forward Kyle Okposo to a seven-year, $42-million contract.
Okposo spent parts of nine seasons with the New York Islanders, the team that selected him seventh overall at the 2006 NHL Draft. As he prepares to start the next chapter of his NHL career, Okposo took the opportunity to thank the Islanders organization and the fans in the Players’ Tribune.
In a piece titled Thanks for the Memories, Long Island, Okposo recounts his arrival in the American Hockey League with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers as a 19-year-old, his first NHL game, and playing in the franchise’s first home playoff game in six years in 2013.
Here some highlights from Okposo’s letter to Islanders fans and the organization.
I’m not a perfect player. I went through some pretty rough times with my game. The Isles’ fans and organization stuck by me. I’ll forever be grateful for that. The organization could have easily cast me aside and gotten rid of me, but they helped me through it. When I would go to an autograph signing or an appearance during those tough times, the fans would say, “Stick with it,” or “We love your game.” Those things brought a smile to my face.
On watching John Tavares grow into one of the best players in the game.
John Tavares was my roommate his first season. He was a bit introverted and just a shy young man. To watch his transformation into the player and person he is today has been truly special. He’s taught me a lot of things about what it takes to be the best. The Islanders organization is lucky to have him wearing the C.
On Frans Nielsen, who signed a six-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings on July 1.
The first guy I ever played with in the Isles’ organization was Frans Nielsen. It was at the team’s 2006 rookie camp. Fransy is still the same man today as he was then. Wise beyond his years, observant and just one of the best guys you’ll ever meet. If you got $100 for every time someone said something bad about Frans, you’d still be looking for your first Benjamin. Best of luck in Detroit man. What a run we had.
And looking forward to his future with the Sabres.
The Sabres are a great organization and I couldn’t be happier. All I want to do is give the city a Stanley Cup. I’m excited for the journey and the challenge. I’ll see you all in October.
Let’s get it, Buffalo.
Read Kyle Okposo’s piece in its entirety here.