Okposo Skates in First Full-Team Practice

Kyle Okposo skated in his first full-team practice at Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday morning, but coach said he still has a long way to go before returning to game action

Wednesday, 01.12.2011 / 12:48 PM ET / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
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Okposo Skates in First Full-Team Practice




Forward Kyle Okposo made his first appearance at a full team practice on Wednesday morning at Nassau Coliseum, but according to the coaching staff, it will take some time before he’s ready to return to the Islanders lineup.

“I don’t (have a timeline for his return) right now,” Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano said. “He just saw the doctors last week. I’ll just talk to Garrett (Timms, the Islanders Athletic Trainer) week-to-week to see where he’s at. But right now, he’s still quite a way away (from returning to the lineup).”

During preseason, Okposo underwent shoulder surgery to fix a torn rotator cuff, which he suffered during an intra-squad special teams scrimmage at Nassau Coliseum on September 23rd.

As a result, the 6’0” 210-pound power has not appeared in one game this season.

Kyle Okposo #21 and Rob Schremp #44 of the New York Islanders share a laugh during a traning camp session on September 21, 2010 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
“It’s definitely nice (to be skating with the team again),” Okposo said. “It’s just good to be part of the group again and being out there at practice. It’s a good feeling.”

Even though he knows it’s going to take time to be cleared for contact, Okposo said that his shoulder feels good and he can tell that it’s getting close to full strength. Mostly, he’s excited about returning to game action and playing in his first game this season.

“I just want to get back and get back as fast as possible,” Okposo said. “Right now I’m just trying to get my shoulder as strong as it can be and hopefully I’ll be back sooner than later.”

His teammates are really looking forward to Okposo’s return.

“At the start of the year, we said we weren’t going to make excuses for guys being injured and maybe that hurt our success early, but it’s going to be a huge boost to have Kyle (Okposo) back skating,” Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. “This is not just his play on the ice, but it’s what kind of guy he is around the room. He’s well respected.”

MacDonald continued, “When you’re injured for that amount of time, you’re not around as much and you don’t get to interact with the team as much. But now that he’s back, it kind of gives that mental lift for everyone too because it’s a long season and when you get additional help at this point in the season, it goes a long way.”

While the team made no excuses, Okposo’s return is expected to boost the Islanders scoring. Last year, in his second full NHL season, he was second on the team in scoring with 19 goals and 33 assists.

“He’s going to add that dimension of leadership in the room for sure,” Capuano said. “And he’s going to add an element of a power forward to help our scoring for sure.”

Like Capuano said, Okposo is only 22 years old, but he will still fill a leadership role both on the ice and in the locker room. Selected seventh overall in the 2006 Entry Draft, Okposo has been in the league for a few years now, but has quickly stepped in as a leader and even had the “A” on his sweater last year.

Kyle Okposo #21 of the New York Islanders takes the puck to the net against Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 14, 2010 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
“It’s a huge boost for our lineup,” Islanders forward Josh Bailey said. “As far as everything goes, he brings everything to the table. His on-ice play and leadership, having him in the room, all in all, he’s just someone we’ve really missed. It will be a huge boost for our lineup to get him back.”

When Okposo is ready to return, Bailey, his former linemate, is sure he’ll be ready to go.

“I will not be surprised if he steps right in,” Bailey said. “That’s just how good he is. Obviously he’s been out a long time and it might take a couple games, but with him, he’ll be ready to go and he’ll be prepared. The type of player he is, he’ll be able to step right back in.”

For now, it’s just good for him to be out there on the ice with his teammates.

“Kyle, it’s a long road for him with the injury,” Capuano said. “For him, if you talk to him, it’s good being around the guys again. He skated with the team today, but he can’t do anything physically right now. But for him, mentally, it’s a good sign for him. So he’s having a lot of fun around the guys, being out there, so when he does get back it’s going to be a big plus for our hockey team.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 77 34 43 -2 77
R. Strome 76 16 32 20 48
K. Okposo 55 16 31 -11 47
F. Nielsen 76 14 28 8 42
B. Nelson 77 19 22 7 41
A. Lee 71 23 16 10 39
J. Bailey 65 15 23 3 38
J. Boychuk 67 8 25 9 33
N. Leddy 73 10 21 14 31
T. Hamonic 67 5 26 16 31
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 36 16 2 .913 2.42
M. Neuvirth 1 3 1 .881 2.94

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