New York Islanders prospect Josh Ho-Sang worked all throughout the 2014-2015 season to prove a lot of people wrong. He was also working to prove that the Isles made the right choice with their 28th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. He finished the season with 81 points in 60 games split between the Windsor Spitfires and the Niagara IceDogs in the OHL.
After just 11 games with the Spits, Ho-Sang was traded to Niagara for forward Hayden McCool and a few draft picks. Though it was a move geared toward the future for Windsor, it was still a bit of a head-scratcher given the fact that it was so early in the season. Usually teams wait until at least the mid-way point of the season, but usually the trade deadline, to get the most value for their stars.
Instead of waiting for the best possible return, Windsor GM Warren Rychel sent him to Niagara for a mediocre package.
Perhaps the most controversial thing that happened to him last season was his snub at the Canadian U20 World Junior camp. Ho-Sang did not take it very lightly:
They can’t invite me to that stuff because they’re afraid. If I go there and do well, then they have no reason not to put me on the world junior team. I’m one of those people who asks ‘Why?’ I genuinely asked for an explanation and it’s not because I’m rude or because I think I deserve one. With me, I’m not afraid of that.
Despite watching Canada win gold without him, Ho-Sang still put up his second consecutive 80-point season in the OHL though, making his odds to crack the Isles’ NHL roster this fall much greater than they had been last September during training camp.
While most other prospects of his caliber are still fighting for spots on NHL rosters, Ho-Sang already knows that he will be returning to Niagara for the start of the 2015-16 campaign. And that’s especially disappointing because he was reportedly off to a very good start (reinforced here and here) before the incident that forced management to send him back on Friday:
Garth Snow and Eric Cairns both gave me a call and let me know he slept in this morning and was being sent home. The bottom line is he didn’t show up on time and Josh has a track record. He has to be accountable for those kind of things. Everything else was exemplary. He did everything else well. He made a mistake and he has put himself in a position where he can’t make mistakes.
He is devastated. He is very upset and humbled by the whole thing. Embarrassed by it. He is a good kid. I feel for Josh. He has to learn there are consequences for these types of actions. I think in the big picture, he will be a better man for it.
– Niagara IceDogs GM Marty Williamson
Williamson’s comment emphasizes the fact that he believes Ho-Sang is a great player, but one that needs to learn how to be more responsible in order to become a better professional. Having already blown his chance of making it to the NHL for the start of this season seems to be tough love on the part of Isles management. It’s just a matter of bringing him along the right way, and this strategy seems like a smart way to do it.
Luckily for Ho-Sang, Team Canada finally came around and invited him to their U20 WJC camp over the summer. After his verbal outrage last year over the fact that he had not even been invited to camp, Team Canada is now giving him a shot in his final year of WJC eligibility. (Almost) surprisingly, he has never played for Team Canada in international play (except for Team Ontario U17 a few years back), so he has a lot to prove this year if he wants to make the team.
But if we thought we saw the best of a fired-up, ready-to-prove-himself Josh Ho-Sang last year, who knows what’s in store for an even more motivated Josh Ho-Sang this year. Don’t be surprised if he makes Team Canada and scores almost 100 points in the OHL.
And don’t be surprised if he comes to training camp a new player–and person–next September.