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Kyle Okposo



 Kyle Okposo

Kyle Henry Erovre Okposo (born April 16, 1988) is an American professional ice hockey right winger, an alternate captain of the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League (NHL). He was drafted seventh overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders, following a season in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with the Des Moines Buccaneers in which he was named the most valuable player of the USHL playoffs and the league’s top rookie. He helped the Buccaneers to a Clark Cup victory.

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[edit]Playing career

Okposo was born to a Nigerian father and a Caucasian mother. His father immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager, and eventually earned a Ph.D. His family currently resides in Minnesota, where Okposo grew up.[citation needed]

During his freshman season at University of Minnesota, Okposo was placed at the center position, even though he is a natural winger. Throughout most of the season this became his most common position due to the abundance of wingers on the team.

 Kyle Okposo

magnify clip Kyle Okposo

Okposo with the Islanders in 2009.

In January 2007, he played for the U.S. National Junior Team in the 2007 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship. On June 7, 2007, Okposo announced he would be returning to the University of Minnesota for the 2007–08 season. Okposo played the 2007–08 season for the University of Minnesota ice hockey team until December 19, 2007. On that morning Okposo notified his teammates at the university of his decision to leave the team. Soon after, both the Gophers and the New York Islanders announced officially that Okposo decided to leave college after the completion of his current semester and would then begin his professional hockey career.

Okposo’s decision to leave school was considered controversial by some. As a response to questioning, Islanders general manager Garth Snow told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, “Quite frankly, we weren’t happy with the program. They have a responsibility to coach, to make Kyle a better player, and they were not doing that.”[1]

Coach Don Lucia then claimed that the Islanders put him “in a very difficult position.” [2] In his response to Snow’s comments, Lucia emphasized the importance of obtaining a degree, “We have had numerous players sign and play in the NHL, but just as important many more move on to have successful careers after graduating from the University of Minnesota. We have always and will continue to work to ensure our players reach their potential on the ice and in the classroom.”[3]

Okposo signed an entry-level contract with the Islanders and was assigned to their top minor league affiliate, the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He made his NHL debut on March 18, 2008, against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and netted his first career NHL goal on March 21, 2008, against the New Jersey Devils, a game winner scored on the powerplay against Martin Brodeur.[4] He also scored in his final game of the season, in a game against the New York Rangers.

On September 17, 2009, Okposo suffered a mild concussion after a check to the head by Dion Phaneuf. He returned to the Islanders’ lineup for their opening game on October 3, 2009.

On May 25, 2011, Okposo signed a five-year, $14 million dollar contract with the New York Islanders.[5]

[edit]Awards

  • USHL Rookie of the Year – 2006
  • USHL Clark Cup Playoffs MVP – 2006
  • USHL First All-Star Team – 2006
  • USHL All-Rookie Team – 2006
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