After the Sabres victoriously wrapped up their home schedule Wednesday night, their thoughts returned to teammate Kyle Okposo. He’s been hospitalized and put in intensive care with a lingering illness that’s lasted 10 days.
“It’s never a good thing to hear about a teammate, but you try to be there for him,” defenseman Zach Bogosian said in KeyBank Center. “That’s really all you can do for a teammate is make sure you’re there for him and know that he’s got the support of all the guys.”
After coach Dan Bylsma admitted to being “very concerned” about Okposo’s health, word came that the 28-year-old had been admitted to the Neuro Surgical ICU at Buffalo General Medical Center. Paul Hamilton of WGR-AM 550 first reported the story, which The Buffalo News confirmed.
“Kyle continues to be under the care of our doctors as he deals with symptoms from an illness," the Sabres said in a statement issued during their 2-1 victory over Montreal. “Out of respect to Kyle and his family, we will have no further comment at this time.”
Okposo has been sick since March 28.
“It’s a difficult thing for him to be dealing with now in this situation,” Bylsma said. “Very, as a coach and a person, concerned for him and his situation.”
According to the website for the UCLA Neurosurgery Department, the neuro ICU cares for patients with all types of neurosurgical and neurological injuries, including stroke, brain hemorrhage, trauma and tumors.
“I don’t think there’s much info for us to share, but anytime someone is hurting you’re obviously concerned,” left wing Matt Moulson said. “We’re a family in here, so we’re going to give support to his family.”
The word “family” came literally to Moulson. He and Okposo, who were also teammates with the New York Islanders, are godfathers to each other’s children. Moulson would not say whether he has spoken with Okposo.
“You always feel for a teammate when he’s not feeling well, especially a guy like Kyle,” center Jack Eichel said. “He brings a special element to our team and locker room every day. Obviously, he’s a special player on the ice that we definitely miss.
“It’s never easy to see him go through what he’s going through not feeling well. We just all want to be here to support him and wish him all the best. Hopefully, he gets healthy soon.”
Okposo is in his first season with the Sabres after signing a seven-year deal in July. The Minnesota native spent nine seasons with the Islanders after being drafted seventh overall in 2006. He was Buffalo’s lone representative in this season’s All-Star Game.
“He’s a big part to this team, good teammate,” Sabres captain Brian Gionta said. “We’re all there, obviously, for him, so it’s tough to see. Anytime someone’s going through stuff, it’s real tough.
“All we can do is support him and be there for him.”
Messages left with Okposo's agent were not returned.
Okposo has not played since a March 27 home game against Florida. Bylsma continually categorized the forward as “sick and ill” while Okposo missed four games. He obviously will miss the final two games of the season this weekend.
“We’re coming down the stretch,” Gionta said. “We’re trying to maintain some good stuff, get some positive energy going into next year. He’s a big part to this organization, so it’s tough.”