Sabres' Okposo is impressed with Ralph Kruger

September 03, 2019 - 2:39 pm

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - It seems like anytime you speak with one of the Sabres, they're pretty impressed with their new coach Ralph Kruger. What they're impressed with is how he acts towards them. Veteran winger Kyle Okposo was no different, "Just a phenomenal guy, I just went to dinner with him and a couple of the other guys and we may have talked hockey for 15-20 minutes out of two hours and we were picking his brain about his life and his experiences, but he's just a really personable guy, genuine and an interesting guy.

"I've talked to a few guys that played for him in Edmonton and they had nothing but great things to say about him and how he treated them and just how he was as a person first and foremost and then as a coach second, so I think that speaks volumes of his character."

In a short amount of time the Sabres have gone through Ted Nolan, Dan Bylsma, Phil Housley and Kruger as their coach. Okposo said when that happens, players need to take responsibility, "It reflects on the players that we had and partly that we didn't get the job done. You have to look at yourself and for me this will be my third coach in four years that I've been here and you have to push to be better no matter who is behind the bench."

Okposo takes everything to heart and sometimes it may affect his play. The winger took a lot of time in the off season to evaluate, "I indentified a few things that I wanted to work on and it took me a long time to get over the year and I wasn't happy about it, I wasn't happy with the way things ended, I wasn't happy with Phil getting fired, I felt like it reflected on my performance and I think you have to take that on a bit as a player."

This summer Jason Botterill brought in Marcus Johansson, Jimmy Vesey, Colin Miller and Henri Jokiharju. Okposo said with those additions, they should be better, "For sure, I think we have a ton of depth, especially at D and we brought in a lot of depth at forward as well, so there's going to be a lot of competition this year."

It not just the players brought in. Okposo thinks some of the guys that have been here can be better, "I think internally we have guys that can take steps. Call it a fluke, call it what you want, but when we started the year the way we did last year, the bones are in here, it's not like you had to go out and completely blow up the team, the bones are in here."

A guy who you could call new is Victor Olofsson. He only played six games in Buffalo and had two goals and two assists. Okposo believes the winger is going to be a contributor, "It's great anytime you can dominate a league and I think that he was a pretty dominant player down there, anytime you score 30 goals in pro hockey its fantastic and then when he came up here, he fit right in, smart player.

"I've been on the ice with him one day so far and you can just see it in his stride, the way that he moves, the way that he thinks, he's going to be a good player."

Bylsma used to have dry erase boards all over the room and the players were on information overload. Okposo thinks there is a better way and he feels it will help him be better, "It's simplifying, I mentioned to Ralph that I wanted to get back to using my instincts more as opposed to thinking and I think for a hockey player, that's really important. Players will tell you they're at their best when they're not thinking out there."

Only Scott Wilson and Rasmus Dahlin have been skating in Buffalo. In past years most of the team has been in town by the third week of August. Dahlin and Jack Eichel will be heading to Chicago for an event. Others on the ice Tuesday were Okposo, Carter Hutton, Zemgus Girgensons, Sam Reinhart, Johan Larsson, Casey Mittelstadt and Tage Thompson. Dylan Cozens joined the group and was still in a red jersey. He did take part in the scrimmage.

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