Okposo Left Off Team USA, ‘Not Built for Big Ice’

Kevin Schultz

A few minutes ago at the end of the Winter Classic, USA Hockey unveiled its roster for the Sochi Olympics in February. Left off the roster was Islanders forward Kyle Okposo despite being the second highest scoring American player in the NHL so far this season.

At ESPN, Scott Burnside had an inside look at the roster creation in a long piece published just as the team was announced. Burnside has a lot of inside info from Predators GM David Poile, who assembled the team, and provides this reasoning for Okposo being left off as well as Jason Pominville:

Like Bishop, Poile notes that Jason Pominville and Kyle Okposo are having great seasons but haven’t been given much, if any, consideration.

Still, the belief is that neither Pominville nor Okposo is built for the big ice, and their names will rarely, if ever, be heard in relation to making the team going forward.

At the University of Minnesota, Okposo played on an Olympic sized rink.




125 comments
firecappy
firecappy

Burke claims that Kyle Okposo's game won't translate to the Olympic size arena. I wonder if he is aware that Okposo played college hockey at the University of Minnesota, where they played their home games on an Olympic size rink.  My guess is the answer is "no."

ibethr4u
ibethr4u

The hockey fan in me says its going to be really hard to root for a team that leaves its best players home. The Isles fan in me says that it make even less sense to say something as stupid as " he (KO) isn't built for big ice". Of course he is built for big ice. He played college hockey on the bigger surface and he has good experience in the "bigger ice" with his world junior experience. If I remember correctly, he had played pretty well on the "big ice".

Donald Yacona
Donald Yacona

I hope he takes it out on the Preds everytime they play them from now on

chasct
chasct

The USA Olympic Hockey brass apparently are still in the stone age ..harboring deep-seeded bias based on a guys ethnic background..shame on you Poile..whoever the hell crowned you king of USAHockey forgot to ask if you were racist.

Kyle deserves to be there...nobody has worked harder to improve his game and leadership and it has shown...

red2
red2

Unfortunately, it's money issue and such a change will never be implemented but, the NHL should switch to an Olympic size ice surface.  The playing field should be standardized though out the world.  The added space would open up the game just enough for the skill players.  Ten feet longer, about 13 feet wider with two extra feet behind the goal lines would provide more room for the talented skaters and make the game more exciting.  Of course, that's just one man's opinion... 

orange
orange

Happy New Year everybody it blows not to see KO not on the team and i hope JT is not on the canada team better they rest because im starting to see some jelling on this team and they will come back after the break rested and stronger.LETS KICK ASS

dave27a
dave27a

This annoys me as much as everyone else - because like everyone else I wanted to see Okposo on this team to have an Islander to root for and to see someone besides JT (and Rick DiPietro) get some national attention in the last decade.


That said, bear in mind these guys weren't charged with selecting a US all-star or fantasy team.  They were charged with creating a team roster that can win, one that will have limited time to jell.  I still think Okposo should have a place on that roster, but picking a few lesser players who have experience playing together is certainly a viable approach.


We're all prone to taking a "woe is us" stance about being Islanders fans, getting no respect, etc…but honestly, I'm not sure that was really a factor here. 

ny711ot
ny711ot

Kevin

Is there any chance that Ville Pokka will be the next defensive call up?

ny711ot
ny711ot

us juniors eliminated.

Brian
Brian

Lots of love for KO. Last year at this time we loved him as much as we currently like Josh Bailey. Now there's hatred for the Pen GM and coach because he's left off the Olympic team. How fickle can one be? If I was KO I would say "thanks for your support, now go away".

Isleguy27
Isleguy27

Just listened to former NHL player Jeff O'neil on TSN state his disgust with the omission of Bobby Ryan and Keith Yandle off of the U.S. roster. The panel also discussed the omission of Kyle Okposo.

Paul Grzymalski
Paul Grzymalski

hate to say this but, im kind of hoping the team gets swept now....lol

palffy
palffy

Whatever.  Now he gets to rest for 3 weeks rather than risking injury in Sochi.  With our luck he would have blown out his knee.  Would sure be a real shame to see something like that happen to one of the Rangers' superstars that made the team.

John Niemczyk
John Niemczyk

with bombing already going at the Olympic site it I'm sure Kyle is not too broken up

...

Macacawitz
Macacawitz

Columbus, Ottawa and the Islanders are irrelevant, small market hockey teams.  If Bobby Ryan, Jack Johnson and KO played for the Rangers, Kings, Blackhawks, Leafs or Red Wings, they would have had a much better chance of being added.  As is the norm, it sucks to suck.  

CaptainT
CaptainT

why the hell is kyle okposo not built for the big ice? and callahan and brown are? what about stepan and oshie? okposo is a better skater than all except oshie. also, the powerhouses (russia, canada, sweden) dont seem to pick grinders for thier bottom lines. they go with best players. theres a reason theyre considered the powerhouses. so poile wants to get grinders for his team but also says the reason he snubbed better players is because they werent built for the big ice? and youre trying to tell me that the worst skating grinders are? the guy is the biggest hypocrite ever. screw him and usa hockey

Chris
Chris

While I think KO got the shaft, lets not get silly. Callahan absolutely deserves the call. Don't even go there. The fact that Yandle and Ryan got left off is a bigger joke than KO.


That said, really, who cares. If KO plays with a chip on his shoulder, scores 35 goals and the Islanders get into the playoffs, then no one will remember it.


Plus, the US squad is going to get their clocks cleaned in Russia. I'm rooting for them, but still...they're not going to place.

dimaio34
dimaio34

Hey how about this. Trade bailey and donavon to Detroit for abdelkader. Ship a second and third to Florida for Campbell.

John Falcone
John Falcone

Callahan and Wheeler getting the pick over KO, is ridiculous. On top of it, we have Howard, Miller and quick? Should have been Bishop. This feels like 2006 all over again.

Adam Wessinger
Adam Wessinger

Here is my take on the Brooks Orpik thing:


Orpik was obviously Bylsma's choice and they let him be the 8th Dman as a favor.  He will not play at all in Sochi, but Bylsma just wanted his guy to have a chance to come home with a gold medal.

crazyjoedavola
crazyjoedavola

In related news, John Tavares was left off of Team Canada in favor of Brian Boyle.

May as well, since for some reason Stepan > Okposo.

puckznpadz
puckznpadz

okay all kidding aside did anyone miss Josh Bailey from the lineup last night?  I definitely did not miss him.  Thought the team looked better without him. And the USA Olympic Committee blows.

TonyM
TonyM

No KO what a joke, If he was a Ranger he'd be going to Sochi. According to Poile KO's game did not translate onto the bigger ice surface. What BS he took Orpik over Keith Yandle.when Yandle can skate rings around Orpik who's on the downside of his career! Basically it's the same team from 2010 except I dont' think this team will get a medal. The only reason that team won the Silver is because Ryan Miller stood on his head! 

shlo
shlo

OK Let's get over it and concentrate on the important things: Make the playoffs and win at least one round. 

Time to have a drink.


Mike Perillo
Mike Perillo

not like hes second in scoring among American born players or anything...only kane has more.

phishstyx1
phishstyx1

Big deal better for the Islanders.  He comes back after a nice rest and plays with a big chip on his shoulder. 

Steve J. Gonzalez
Steve J. Gonzalez

Complete nonsense that Okposo is kept off the US Olympic roster. How does Callahan or Stepan rate being on it? How do you keep Bishop or Pominville off. I guess I may have to root for Canada with this mickey mouse roster that we have.  

rjmatty
rjmatty

@chasct This is not rascist OMG! Its dumb decision making but give me a break with the race crap

Jason Zimmermann
Jason Zimmermann

@chasct This is ridiculous. Playing the race card is absolutely foolish and uncalled for. After looking at the roster, I have no issues except for Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin. Everyone else should be there.


There are a lot of good American players, and it's impossible to take them all.

kgkg
kgkg

@red2 Make that every mans opinion. The game is built around speed and the larger ice would really open things up. We will never see it though because the owners would never want to give up those seats.

Don22
Don22

@ny711otIsn't he in Juniors and ineligible for this year?

nics21
nics21

Yeah but he's from Finland where he will now go back to and continue playing his season over there.

Jason Zimmermann
Jason Zimmermann

@brian This happens to be true.And frankly, I still have issues with Okposo. He's not the smartest hockey player, though he is improving. But absoutely, Brian, the fans are fickle.


I have no issues with the Olympic roster. I'm not wild about Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik being on defense, but other than that, everyone else on the team is uncomplainable (a word I just coined).

Isleguy27
Isleguy27

Do you really believe that to be the case for KO's absence from the roster? JT comes from the same team, and he will be playing for team Canada. I suspect Vanek will be with his home country as well.

GO CANADA GO! Bring home the Gold!

Jim Miller
Jim Miller

@CaptainTI'll be in Aruba rooting for team Canada. Leaving Kyle off this team was the last straw for me.

Derek Scheer
Derek Scheer

@dimaio34 Bailey doesn't even belong in the NHL anymore who would trade for him ? He plays with no heart and is invisible every night , some guys get paid, know they are set for life and the light switch goes off. Great pick Garth.

ibethr4u
ibethr4u

@Adam Wessinger

That may be true. I don't care for Dan Bylsma anyay. But to pick Orpik expecially with his recent cuncussion history, I doubt he sees much ice time anyway.  He is slow and definitely not "built for big ice" to now coin a phrase. Orpick is just taking up space for no reason.

Lyle Gillen
Lyle Gillen

You do realize KO is a RW and Stepan is a C, correct? More like Callahan/Wheeler> Okposo

Adam Wessinger
Adam Wessinger

@Steve J. Gonzalez Pominville is a RW.  He would have to beat out Kane, Kessel, Oshie, Wheeler, Callahan, Bobby Ryan, and Okposo for 4 (maybe 5) spots.  I am pretty sure that outside of callahan,  all of those guys have more points than Pominville and are just better players at this point.  Most people agree about Bishop, however he would probably be the third goaltender and not factor into the games.

islefansince72
islefansince72

@Jason Zimmermann@chasct Dustin Brown?

Ryan Callahan?


FYI-Okposo happens to be a very able PK man (for Olympics). He just does not play it on Isles because he is too valuable elsewhere.

dzruggie
dzruggie

@Don22 @ny711ot He is playing overseas but had some military commitment which may be stopping any call up.

shlo
shlo

@Lyle Odelein Poile does not run the Canadian team, Bylsma is not the coach.....maybe Canada has a different approach........

CaptainT
CaptainT

@Lyle Gillenyeah well stepan isnt gonna end up playing center anyways so it makes no sense

crazyjoedavola
crazyjoedavola

You do understand that they took 6 C's. They need 4. It was an extra spot on the team. They had all the wings and centers to choose from.

Macacawitz
Macacawitz

@shlo @Lyle Odelein Tavares would be well on the way to superstardom if he wasn't stuck with the worst organization in the game.  He played junior in the OHL and is still a household name in Canada.   Vanek is more talented than Okposo and will play for Austria, it's not like they have a ton of depth.  Okposo has virtually no marketability.  He plays for a dead team no one respects with a small, largely ignored fan base. A lot of this is about selling product and getting people to watch.  Things that he's not in a position to impact.