It seems to be a known fact across the National Hockey League: Joshua Ho-Sang has a bit of an attitude. That's fair and well, after all, the 22-year-old forward is trying to make his way in a regular spot in the NHL and wants to convince the New York Islanders that they should call him back to the big club, and trust his progress.
I am not sure he went about it the right way though... The Islanders have been dealing with defensive woes, goaltending ones too, which seems to be a huge hurdle for them to win the tight race for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Isles are currently 14 points out of the last Wild Card spot available, where the New Jersey Devils now stand with 88 points. It almost seems impossible for them to close the gap.
However, Ho-Sang believes things would be different if he was in the lineup instead of sitting around in a bus, travelling with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the American Hockey League.
“I love those guys, I want to make that clear,” Ho-Sang said to The Athletic of his former Islanders teammates. “I know they’re working hard. But I got sent down for defense and what are they in goals against in the NHL? I only played (22) games up there this year. I don’t think it’s my fault. They really painted it like it was my fault at the beginning of the year and I didn’t like that.
“I do have things I need to work on down here, my game is far from perfect. It can constantly improve. But I do think a lot of the stuff was unwarranted, especially in terms of the rope that other people were given. I understand I have a history and that might be a factor. I don’t know. But it’s frustrating to me.”
The Islanders' record was 17-12-3 when Ho-Sang was sent down for good; they're 15-23-7 since.
“I feel like I can help, you know? I feel like I can help,” he told The Athletic on Tuesday after a Sound Tigers practice. “When I’ve gotten the chance to help, I’ve helped. So I don’t feel like what I’m saying is so farfetched. I played at two pretty tough times of the year – I wasn’t there in the middle of the season, when everyone's dragging a little. I was there at the start of the season, when everyone’s fresh off their workouts, and I played at the end of last year when everyone was trying to make the playoffs.
“I feel like I’ve played games of substance and I’ve done well. More importantly, the team’s done well with me there. If you’re going to tell me that I’m bad defensively, I do this, I do that, but you win more than you lose with me in the lineup…”
However, Isles coach Doug Weight disagrees. He saw too many overstayed shifts, too many turnovers and too little attention to detail. He could not help but reply to Ho-Sang's comments.
“We had six guys out,” Weight said. “It was a perfect opportunity. And Josh should be upset with himself. Whether our view of the world is wrong is something we can argue later. But the fact is, we need to be able to look at how some guys are laying it on the line (in Bridgeport) and he’s a healthy scratch.”
And unfortunately for Ho-Sang, general manager Garth Snow seems to be on the same page as his head coach even if the SoundTigers have good things to say about the young forward.
“Josh has to learn how to be reliable not only on the ice but off the ice,” Snow told The Athletic. “He’s going to be held accountable like every other player in this organization and that’s why he’s in Bridgeport.”
“As of late, he has been very engaged, his effort has been excellent,” Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said. “He’s bought into what we’re trying to teach him. The offensive skills, he’s got those – those are God-given skills that we can’t teach him. We can try to enhance them in the right spots."
Ho-Sang might find things a bit awkward at the next training camp in September, but according to him, it is because he was been singled out since the start...
“Yeah, I think it’s pretty obvious,” he said. “There were some comments about me when I wasn’t in the NHL, so I wasn’t affecting the team, but they were focused on my defense and my turnovers when… Look, if you’re going to send me down because of defense, it’d be nice to see other people be held accountable. That's all.”