After many ups and down, Josh Ho-Sang finally will get his shot with the big club starting tonight, when the Islanders travel to Dallas to take on the Stars at 8:30 PM.
It seems like a long time, but it’s only been two and a half yeas since Ho-Sang was drafted.
Ah, the trials and tribulations of Josh Ho-Sang. Nothing anyone says at this point really fazes Islanders’ fans when it comes to the 21-year-old prospect. We have heard it all:
“Ho-Sang has a bad attitude.”
“Ho-Sang is too cocky.”
“Ho-Sang is brash, opinionated, and outspoken.”
It’s not a bad thing to have a belief in yourself, know your abilities, and what you’re capable of doing. Ho-Sang was understandably frustrated after not being picked for the WJC camp in the Summer of 2014. He wasn’t afraid to let everyone know that either. Unfortunately for him, there is a fine line between cocky and confident, and people seem to believe he crossed it many times. That caused his draft stock, despite his immeasurable talent, to fall. The Isles snagged him at number 28, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle.
Ho-Sang has been on a mission to prove he belongs in the conversation of top NHL prospects. He has been working hard since he got drafted to one day make it to the big time. Despite all of his beliefs, he clearly had some growing up to do. After being invited to NHL training camp by the Isles in the Summer of 2015, Josh dropped the ball…big time. He showed up late on Day 1, claiming his “alarm clock never went off.” The Isles already knew he would be a polarizing figure, and if he stepped out of line he would likely have to be made an example of. How else could management prove they meant business. So, the team sent Ho-Sang packing, right back to the OHL. Right then and there his camp was over. He got the message loud and clear.
“I’m excited with the changes that I’ve made to get here on a personal level,” Ho Sang said. “I’m not really going to discuss all those, but I’m a better person now than I was three years ago, and I think that everything happens for a reason. It’s helped me change a lot and make a lot of changes in my lifestyle, which have been beneficial.”
Sure, he has had some hiccups along the way, and has even been benched a couple of times by Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson. However, there is no denying his productivity. He has been on fire. He has 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in his past 16 games for Bridgeport, which has won 16 of its past 19. He has 36 points (10 goals, 26 assists) in 48 games with the Sound Tigers this season. He was also recently named AHL Player of the Month for February.
But, the man who once described himself as the player who “would be considered the best pick in the draft three years from now,” now has his shot to prove it. Looking back at the 2014 NHL Draft, if he truly wants to be the best, he would have to compete against Leon Draisaitl, Aaron Ekblad, Sam Bennett, Dylan Larkin, William Nylander, David Pastrnak, and his teammate Michael Dal Colle among others. You have some very good players in there, but right now the only “star,” he would be up against would be Ekblad, and it’s hard to compare defensemen to forwards.
Make no mistake, this is a legitimate shot for the 21-year old kid from Thornhill, ON, who will wear number 66; a number never worn by an Islander before. Where else should a kid from Canada, with a black, Jamaican, professional tennis playing father from Kingston, Jamaica, whose grandfather is Chinese from Hong Kong. who has a Jewish mother born in Santiago, Chile, to Russian and Swedish parents play hockey other than New York? How long he stays, is up to him. With Alan Quine out a couple of weeks, he has a real shot to stick.
Doug Weight made sure to speak with him when he arrived. “I’ve talked to Josh already about what’s expected of him. Those things don’t just go away, so we’re going to talk to him about them and make sure he’s ready to be a pro up here because nothing else is going to be tolerated. He’s got a great attitude. He’s a good kid and he’s a good player. “He’s played well. He’s done what he does well well, and he’s worked on everything. He’s had a great attitude in the last five weeks and the team’s responded because of it. He’s been a big part of that success. We’ve got a lot of guys that are going to get healthy, but he’s here to play hockey and he’s done it his whole life. We’ve got a couple of days here to get him into it.”
“The guys are really welcoming, which is always a pleasure,” Ho-Sang said. “I’m really excited.”
We are too Josh. It’s up to you top prove the doubters wrong. It starts tonight.