BROOKLYN – Ryan O'Reilly didn't have the words to describe the birth of his first child. He didn't need any.
The glow and smile said everything.
"There's nothing like it," O'Reilly said Wednesday, four days after welcoming Jameson Keane O'Reilly to the world. "Seeing him born, I was bawling my eyes out watching this little person come to life and just seeing a little piece of us.
"You can't explain it. It's one of the most incredible feelings there is."
O'Reilly skipped Saturday's game in Carolina and flew home to Buffalo, arriving at the hospital with two hours to spare. He rejoined the team Wednesday for the game against the New York Islanders.
"I was glad I got to be there and share that experience with her family," said O'Reilly, referring to fiancée Dayna Douros. "Again, words can't describe it. It was just something that is life-changing."
The boy was due to be born Friday, and the early arrival allowed the growing family to be together during the three-day Christmas break.
"That made it a lot easier, for sure, knowing that we had a few days to be able to be there, get home and get settled in," O'Reilly said in Barclays Center. "It made it nice to really get to know the little baby. It was an incredible Christmas, obviously the best one I've ever had."
It was certainly better than last year. O'Reilly was hospitalized for an emergency appendectomy. That was nothing compared to childbirth.
"I've got to give credit to Dayna," the center said. "She's one of the toughest people I know for her to be able to do that. I don't think I can complain about a thing ever again."
Smiles have been minimal for O'Reilly during the Sabres' losing season. Neither he nor the team has fulfilled his expectations. The Sabres are 9-20-7, and O'Reilly has nine goals and 23 points in 35 games.
The arrival of Jameson clearly lightened O'Reilly's spirits, which could lift his game.
"It's great for him," coach Phil Housley said, "especially being there for your first child being born – any child, for that matter – but your first one is something you'll never forget.
"He seems like a new kid out there. It's great to see him having fun."
O'Reilly typically carries the weight of the team on his shoulders. He took a brief skate on his own Tuesday, and he has already learned there's a balance to life and hockey.
"It's definitely different when you've got a little baby at home," O'Reilly said. "You get in, you do what you have to do, and then you get out of there. It's going to change that a lot."
Story topics: Ryan O'Reilly