With just over 12 minutes remaining in the third period, Tony DeAngelo took exception to a hit Kyle Okposo laid down on one of DeAngelo’s teammates and threw down his gloves. The Sabres winger agreed to throw hands and, after a bit of skating around, came at the Rangers players with both of arms out extended. Seeing that nothing was protecting his opponent’s face, DeAngelo threw a strong right hand at Okposo’s chin and quickly knocked him down to the ice.
While hockey fights are what typically bring the most casual of sports into a temporary interest of the sport, this fight caused a bit of concern for those familiar with Okposo’s medical history. Back in 2017, the winger had to be sent to the neurosurgical ICU over complications caused by a concussion he suffered at practice, an injury that nearly derailed his career. In a story with the Athletic, Tim Graham recounted the harrowing experiences Okposo went through during that period of his life:
In a dimly lit room off a sobering hospital corridor, Danielle Okposo curled herself in a chair every day and wearily waited for her husband to call out.
Your rings! Your rings!
She would reach out and instantly settle him.
Kyle Okposo couldn’t form full sentences. He was incoherent, confused, paranoid. He strained to recognize loved ones. He thought staffers around his bedside were there to hurt him.
Danielle was terrified. Doctors couldn’t provide answers.
His concussion history unfortunately didn’t end there as he suffered another concussion less than a year later in March of last season.
DeAngelo appeared to have this knowledge in his head, even in the heat of the moment. When Okposo went down, rather than let his head bounce off the ice, the Rangers player grabbed onto his opponent’s sweater to stop the fall. Of course, that only did so much to prevent any further problems with the 30-year-old as Okposo did not return to the game after the fight and was unavailable to speak with reporters afterwards.