I’m sure we’ve all heard about it by now, but Kyle Okposo will not be returning to the New York Islanders next season. GM Garth Snow sent his well wishes to Okposo and his family earlier this morning in an interview on Sirius XM NHL radio. Okposo who was drafted seventh overall back in 2006 was the longest tenured Islander behind other pending UFA Frans Nielsen. For over eight seasons, Kyle became a fan favorite for his hard-nosed mentality as well as his work in the community on Long Island. Okposo had his fair share of memorable moments in his eight years as an Islander, and he will be missed. Here’s his top five moments as a New York Islander. Bon voyage, Kyle.
5. First NHL goal
Just four days after making his highly anticipated Isles debut, 20-year old Kyle Okposo notched his first National Hockey League goal against Martin Brodeur. In classic KO fashion without a helmet, he rocketed a one-timer from just above the right hashmark for the game winning goal with 2:35 remaining in the third period. That tally was the first glimpse of what Isles fans could expect from Okposo in the near future.
4. Throttles Matt Niskanen
After the Islanders no-showed in game one of the playoffs back in 2013, Kyle Okposo took matters into his own hands to show to the Penguins that he and his teammates weren’t going to be pushed around. With the Isles down 3-1 early in the second, Okposo mixed it up with Penguins d-man Matt Niskanen flooring him on the first punch, and leaving him a bloddy mess. The fight changed the game and the series while Okposo made his name.
3. Shakes roof off the Coli
Sticking with the Penguins series, Okposo had already made the Coliseum vibrate in game three, but the goal he scored in game four almost tore the place down. Late in the second period with the Isles down one, Travis Hamonic threw a shot that went behind the net, Okposo outworked Brooks Orpik to the puck and wheeled a shot at Marc-Andre Fleury. The puck banked off a out of position Fleury and into the yawning cage tying the game at three.
2. USA! USA! USA!
This moment will live on for a long time. Team USA had announced its roster for the Sochi Olympics with Okposo’s name not on the ballet. Instead of letting it get him down, Okposo rose to the occasion. Against the defending Cup champion Hawks, in a back and forth affair that went into overtime, it took just 58 seconds for Team USA to realize they made a huge mistake. After John Tavares shot one off the pad of Corey Crawford, Okposo looming for a rebound slammed the puck into the back of the net sending the Nassau Coliseum crowd into a frenzy.
1. Eyeing FOUR!
It had already been a magical season so far for the Isles, but the coup de grace was Kyle Okposo torching Marc-Andre Fleury and the Penguins for four goals in a 6-4 win in early January last year. This moment has more significance because Okposo was playing with a detached retna and still played the way he had always played, even with putting his career at risk.