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Okposo disappointed he won't be an Olympian

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund (5) checks

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund (5) checks New York Islanders right winger Kyle Okposo. (Dec. 21, 2009) Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

When the U.S. Olympic hockey team was announced in a ceremony after the Winter Classic game at Fenway Park Friday, Kyle Okposo's name wasn't called.

Okposo, the Islanders' only U.S. Olympic hopeful, was disappointed that he will not represent his country in Vancouver in February, but he also was realistic.

"You can't control that," Okposo said. "I don't have any regrets about how I've played. Besides the goal drought, I still feel like I've played pretty well."

Nashville general manager David Poile called Okposo on Wednesday to tell him he would not be on the team. Although the phone call did not bring the desired news, Okposo said he feels relieved to have the decision finally made.

"It's definitely a weight off my shoulders to know one way or the other," he 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."

The selection committee opted to bypass Okposo despite selecting a squad defined by its youth. Only three of the players - Jamie Langenbrunner, Chris Drury and Brian Rafalski - have previous Olympic experience.

Okposo, who snapped an 18-game streak without a goal last week, does not have overpowering numbers (six goals and 21 assists), but his contributions this season have been vital. Selected by his teammates as an alternate captain at age 21, he has lived up to the leadership role.

Okposo not only has been one of the Islanders' most effective special-teams players - playing the point on the power play and killing penalties - but is the team's best defensive forward and the team leader in assists. His intensity and work ethic have won him the respect of his coaches and teammates.

Defenseman Mark Streit, who will serve as the captain of the Swiss team in Vancouver, will be the sole Olympian for the Islanders.

New York Sports