When the U.S. Olympic Men’s hockey team was unveiled in a ceremony following the 2010 Winter Classic game between the Bruins and Flyers at Boston’s Fenway Park yesterday, Kyle Okposo’s name was not among the 23-man roster.
Okposo, the Islanders only U.S. Olympic hopeful, said he was let down to hear he would not be representing his country in Vancouver this February.
“I was disappointed,” Okposo said. “You can’t control that. I don’t have any regrets about how I’ve played. Besides the goal drought, I still feel like I’ve played pretty well.”
Okposo, who snapped an 18-game goalless streak last week, did not have overpowering numbers (6 goals and 21 assists), but his contributions to the Islanders this season have been vital. Selected by his teammates as an alternate captain at 21 years of age, Okposo has lived up to that leadership role, and then some.
Okposo has not only been one of the Islanders’ most effective special team players—playing the point on the power-play and killing penalties--, but also arguably the team’s best defensive forward and the team-leader in assists. His intensity and work ethic also has won him respect and favor with his Islanders coaches and teammates.
The selection committee, however, opted to bypass Okposo despite selecting a squad defined by its youth. Only three of the team’s members—Jamie Langenbrunner, Chris Drury, and Brian Rafalski—have prior Olympic experience.
Nashville general manager David Poile called Okposo Wednesday to inform him of the decision. The phone call did not bring the desired news, but Okposo said he feels relieved to have the looming decision settled.
“It’s definitely a weight off my shoulders to know one way or the other,” Okposo said. “It’ll be nice to just go out and play and not worry about it. As much as you don’t want to think about it, it’s in the back of your mind.”
Defenseman Mark Streit, who will serve as the captain of the Swiss team in Vancouver, will be the sole Olympian for the Islanders.