Sabres’ Okposo in hospital having tests to determine illness

Sabres' Okposo in hospital having tests to determine illness

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Matt Moulson wants hospitalized Buffalo Sabres teammate Kyle Okposo to know he has the team’s support.

“You’re family here,” Moulson said after the Sabres closed their home schedule with a 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night. “And no matter what type of injury or what you have, you always feel for them and their family and giving them support.”

Okposo has spent the past three days in a Buffalo hospital undergoing a battery of tests to determine an undisclosed illness that has sidelined him for more than a week.

A person with direct knowledge of Okposo’s status confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday that the player is in the neuro surgical intensive care unit at Buffalo General Hospital. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Sabres have not revealed Okposo has been hospitalized.

“Kyle continues to be under the care of our doctors as he deals with symptoms from an illness,” the Sabres said in a statement Wednesday night. “Out of respect to Kyle and his family, we will have no further comment at this time.”

Buffalo’s WGR-Radio first reported the development earlier in the day.

Coach Dan Bylsma would only say Okposo is with team doctors and tests have yet to pinpoint the cause of the illness.

“As a coach and as a person (I’m) very concerned for him in this situation,” Bylsma said. “He’s sick and dealing with that. It’s a difficult thing for him to be dealing with right now in this situation.”

Okposo was sidelined a few hours before Buffalo’s game at Columbus on March 28. He had just returned to the lineup and played two games after missing 10 because of a rib injury.

He’s fourth on the team with 19 goals and 45 points in 65 games.

Okposo is competing his first season in Buffalo after the Sabres signed the unrestricted free agent to a seven-year, $42 million contract in July. The 28-year-old is a three-time 20-goal-scorer who spent his first nine NHL seasons with the New York Islanders.

“You always feel for a teammate when he’s not feeling well, especially a guy like Kyle who brings a special element to our team and our locker room every day,” forward Jack Eichel said. “It’s never easy to see him go through what he’s going through, not feeling well. We just all want to be there and support him and wish him all the best. Hopefully, he gets healthy soon.”

Buffalo has been eliminated from playoff contention and close the season at Tampa Bay on Sunday.

Sabres captain Brian Gionta said it has been difficult dealing with the uncertainty over Okposo’s illness.

“We’re coming down the stretch, we’re trying to maintain some good stuff, get some positive energy going into next year and he’s a big part of this organization, so it’s tough,” Gionta said. “He’s a good guy in the room so he’s missed for sure.”

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For more NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

John Wawrow, The Associated Press

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