Kyle Okposo is healthy and ready for the season after a concussion cost him the final six games of 2016-17, the forward said in an open letter to fans posted on the Buffalo Sabres website Monday.
Okposo, 29, was scratched after he began feeling ill prior to a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 28. He was admitted to Buffalo General Medical Center on April 2 to be treated for the effects of a concussion.
"I've worked with a lot of different people -- concussion experts and people who have dealt with concussions themselves -- and I feel confident in the fact that I can play hockey again," Okposo wrote. "In fact, I know I can play again. I know I can play and not worry about hitting my head, which is a major hurdle for someone who's dealt with this. If I didn't feel 100 percent right now, that probably wouldn't be the case."
Okposo said his issues began with what he called a routine hit during practice. However, he began feeling progressively worse during the Sabres game against the Florida Panthers on March 27, which was his last of the season.
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"By the time that game was over, I had no appetite," said Okposo, who is listed at 6-foot, 218 pounds. "I realized I was beginning to lose weight. Still, I got on the plane to Columbus with the mindset that I would play the following night.
"When things only got worse the next day, I spoke with [then-Sabres coach Dan Bylsma] and made the decision to sit that one out. I thought some rest and time off would do the trick. But even then, things didn't improve. I went to the hospital hoping that they could find a way for me to get some sleep.
"The medications they gave me to sleep caused a negative reaction in my body. I still couldn't sleep, and the weight loss continued at an alarming rate. At one point, I weighed less than 200 pounds. I haven't weighed that little since I was 17. Now, the initial thought was a possible concussion.
"Intensive care is a scary place to be, but I needed a place where I could be stabilized. My doctors felt that the Neuro Surgical ICU at Buffalo General was the best place for that to happen."
Video: BUF@NSH: Okposo ties the game late in the 3rd period
Okposo played his first game since he was hospitalized July 19 in Da Beauty League, a summer hockey league in Minnesota. Sabres general manager Jason Botterill said June 15 that it was likely Okposo would be on the ice for Sabres training camp in September.
"The first game itself was not good," Okposo said. "We got whacked, 10-3. But I've come a long way since March and April, so it was nice to just play hockey again. I'm healthy and feel great!"