As soon as Kyle Okposo felt the jarring blow to his head, he knew it was another concussion. He'd been hospitalized for one before, so he prepared for the worst.
Thankfully, the worst never came.
"The impact was really hard," the right winger said Friday. "I was just a little dizzy and, 'All right, just take your time, make sure that you're OK.'
"I was OK, then I was just waiting for symptoms to come on. When they didn't and I felt pretty good, I kind of went from there."
Eight days after the March 8 collision with Ottawa's Bobby Ryan, Okposo returned to the ice with his teammates. Though he won't play Saturday when Buffalo hosts Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks, he won't be spending time in a hospital like he did last spring.
"Yeah, that kind of runs through your mind, you know?" Okposo said in KeyBank Center. "Just, 'Oh, no. I hope it doesn't happen again,' and, 'Here we go.'
"But it wasn’t really like that. I didn't have many symptoms. Mood wasn't affected, sleep wasn't affected, so I saw the people that I needed to, and I'm feeling good and ready to go."
Okposo wasn't the only one worried when he left the game in Ottawa. His trip to a neuro intensive care unit after a concussion and adverse reaction to medication last year sent shockwaves through the NHL, its players and its fans.
"Obviously, my teammates were worried," Okposo said. "I got a lot of texts from people and guys around the league, just wanting to make sure I was OK.
"I'm happy to report that I'm good to go."
The injury occurred out of nowhere. Okposo was skating through the neutral zone, keeping his eye on the Senators' puck-carrying defenseman. Ryan was also skating full speed through the neutral zone, and they hit hard.
"He saw me at the last second, but unfortunately I didn't see him," Okposo said.
The 29-year-old left the game but seemed himself while getting ready to fly home.
"From that night, I just thought he was in a pretty good spot," coach Phil Housley said. "I can see that he's responded really quickly getting back right now, and he's in a good area.
"It's really good to see him out there. He looks great. He's been progressing. This was a first really good step in practice to see where he's at. I really liked what he brought. He was sharp and clean."
The collision was a physical setback in a tough season mentally. With 11 goals, 38 points and a minus-29 rating in 65 games, Okposo is on pace for his worst statistical season in five years and one of the worst of his career.
The time off the ice gave him an opportunity to think.
"Being out a week, I've just been able to reassess the year and where I'm at and where my game's been at," Okposo said. "It was a really good time to just reflect and take some realizations in of what I need to do to get back to where I need to on a more consistent basis."
And what did he learn and realize?
"Maybe in my year-end meeting with you guys I'll share," he said with a smile.
The flicker in his eye showed Okposo really was feeling like himself.
"Obviously, with everything that happened last year, I wasn't going to push it," he said. "I was going to make sure that I was 100 percent and had no ill effects. I'm feeling good and happy to be back."
Story topics: Kyle Okposo