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Sabres say there's no timetable for Kyle Okposo after his latest concussion diagnosis

SUNRISE, Fla. – The Buffalo Sabres issued an update on Kyle Okposo's condition Tuesday morning and the news is not good.

The veteran winger and alternate captain has been diagnosed with a concussion, at least the third one he has suffered since 2017, in the wake of his fight Friday night with New York Rangers defenseman Anthony DeAngelo.

The Sabres initially reported Saturday that Okposo did not have a concussion, and he flew with the team to New Jersey for Sunday's game against the Devils.

Buffalo did not have an official morning skate Sunday at Prudential Center in Newark but Okposo went to the rink and skated with backup goalie Linus Ullmark, healthy scratch Nathan Beaulieu and defenseman Zach Bogosian, who has been nursing an undisclosed injury.

Okposo returned to the rink in the afternoon and met with trainers. There was some talk he was going to take the pregame warmup, but that did not happen and the decision was made to send him back to Buffalo rather than continue on the team's road trip to Florida.

"It's one of those cases where our doctors had constant contact with Kyle," coach Phil Housley said prior to Tuesday's game against the Florida Panthers in BB&T Center. "Obviously he was diagnosed with a concussion and we have no timetable for that. It's unfortuntate, but that's the status of Kyle."

Housley said there was no regret putting Okposo on a plane or having him skate Sunday.

"They were in total contact with the doctors," Housley said of the team's training staff. "They felt best just to bring him back to Buffalo and re-evaluate him. He was in constant contact with our doctors. They made the right decision but they wanted to further evaluate him and bring him back to Buffalo."

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When it comes to Okposo, of course, any news of recurring head trauma is serious given what he has endured in recent years. Severe reactions to medication after a concussion suffered in practice in March 2017, landed him in the Neuro ICU unit of Buffalo General Medical Center and he spent the entire summer enduring physical and emotional trauma in the wake of the situation.

Okposo returned to the lineup in time for the start of the season but suffered another concussion last March after an accidental collision with Bobby Ryan during a game in Ottawa. Okposo was sidelined for three games after that hit but came back and appeared in the final 11 games of the season.

Still, Okposo has often said his lack of training the previous summer seriously handicapped his play in 2017-18 as the Sabres finished last in the NHL's overall standing. Okposo had 15 goals and 44 points, his lowest totals for a full season since his rookie year, and posted a minus-34 rating that was the worst in the NHL among forwards.

Housley would not broach the issue of how the latest concussion could impact Okposo long-term, or perhaps if it could even threaten his career. At this early stage, the coach simply would not entertain the implications of the injury.

"That's something we have no timetable on," Housley said. "We just want to be cautious with Kyle. There's no timetable in this situation."

Okposo had played the first 57 games of this season and not missed any until sitting out Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Devils. Okposo, 30, has 10 goals and 12 assists this season with a minus-11 rating. He is in the third season of a seven-year, $42-million contract he signed with the Sabres in 2016.

The fight with DeAngelo came after Okposo had bumped Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello from behind and the New York defenseman intervened. According to Hockeyfights.com, it was just the fourth fight of Okposo's NHL career and his first with the Sabres. He had not received a fighting major since going against Tampa Bay's Ryan Callahan while with the New York Islanders on Nov. 28, 2015.

Okposo and DeAngelo dropped their gloves and sticks and squared off for several seconds with no intervention from teammates or officials before engaging. DeAngelo connected with a right to the jaw and Okposo dropped to the ice before quickly getting up and skating to the Buffalo dressing room.

Okposo did not return to the game and his status is now in limbo.

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