NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — If Kyle Okposo was to scream bloody murder right now, there aren’t that many people out there who would blame him.
But that’s not really his style.
Okposo, the New York Islanders’ second-leading scorer, was one of the more obvious snubs when the U.S. Olympic hockey team was announced at the conclusion of the NHL Winter Classic on Wednesday.
The Team USA braintrust made a number of questionable decisions in filling out the 25-man roster, including never really considering Okposo, who is second in the NHL in scoring this season among American-born players. The 25-year-old right wing is currently on pace for 80 points, which would shatter his previous career high.
The laid-back yet discouraged Okposo spoke of the snub on Thursday prior to the Islanders’ game against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.
“Obviously it’s disappointing that I didn’t get selected but they put together the best team they felt was able to go over there and win a gold medal,” Okposo said. “I’m disappointed I’m not going to be a part of it.”
According to an ESPN report, Okposo was barely a thought in the process of picking the team, despite his stellar 2013-14 season. The selection committee felt he was not “built for the big ice,” which left his name “rarely, if ever” considered for making the team. The rugged forward, who played in college at the University of Minnesota, which plays its home games on Olympic-size ice, took issue with that assessment of his game.
“I read that story. So obviously he has some inside knowledge,” Okposo said. “That part of it is a little bit frustrating, that they think I’m not built for the big (Olympic) ice, but that’s their opinion. I think I’ve proven myself on the big sheet from college and I’ve had a lot of international experience playing world championships with them. But that’s their viewpoint and, you know, that’s okay … I wish them all the best.”
As far as teammate John Tavares is concerned, Team USA made a big mistake. What’s more, the Islanders’ captain fully expects Okposo to use the snub as motivation during the season’s second half.
“I remember four years ago when he didn’t make it he was disappointed. He’s worked extremely hard on his game,” Tavares said. “I think those other countries are going to be pretty lucky they don’t have to play against him over there.”
Okposo is coming off back-to-back three-point games, and has at least one in seven straight and nine of his last 10 for the Islanders, who have won two straight and are 4-3-3 in their last 10.