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Kyle Okposo was 8 years old in 1996, growing up in St. Paul, Minn.

He loved hockey, but the Minnesota North Stars had moved to Dallas three years earlier, so he didn’t have an NHL team until that year. He still remembers what it felt like to watch the Colorado Avalanche during their Stanley Cup run that year. He was all-in.

“Uwe Krupp from the point. Still remember that goal,” Okposo said of the defenseman’s Stanley Cup-clinching goal in triple overtime to break a 0-0 tie at Miami Arena and complete a four-game sweep over the Florida Panthers.

The same Panthers that Okposo is now trying to win a Cup with.

“Ironic, right?” Okposo said. “Playing here now, I see all the pictures constantly and it’s almost 30 years ago. So it’s like it’s coming full circle. Hopefully we can write some history of our own.”

Many of Okposo’s teammates weren’t even born in 1996, which is part of why the graying 36-year-old received instant respect when the Panthers acquired him on March 8.

From the moment Okposo walked into the Panthers’ room, coach Paul Maurice said, “It’s like he’s been here forever.”

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