Is Josh Ho-Sang the Real Deal?

Love him or hate him, Josh Ho-Sang has caught the attention of a number of fans and drew a lot of criticism for wearing the No. 66 in his NHL debut. With just 21 games under his belt, Ho-Sang is far from a Hall of Famer, but he had a strong training camp with the Islanders this summer. As expected, he did quite a bit to justify his case to be in the Islanders’ lineup on opening night.

Josh Ho-Sang – Early Life and Career Beginnings

Ho-Sang was born in Toronto, raised in Thornhill and grew up in a diverse family. His father, Wayne, is a Jamaican tennis player from Kingston, Jamaica. His paternal grandfather is a Chinese man from Hong Kong. His mother, Ericka, is a Chilean of Russian and Swedish descent who practices Judaism. He has a younger brother, Khole, who is five years his junior. Khole was scheduled to represent Canada in the 2015 Snooper Bowl and has a first degree black belt in taekwondo.

Josh Ho-Sang
Josh Ho-Sang: a true enigma for the 2014 NHL Draft (Terry Wilson /OHL Images)

Ho-Sang is a multicultural NHL star in the making, but he has reportedly said that he tries not to make it a race thing. His skills, however, are arguably diverse. He got his start with the Toronto Marlboros of the Greater Toronto Hockey League in 2011. He got drafted by the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League, where he played for three seasons from 2012 to 2015 until the team traded him to the Niagara IceDogs of the OHL. He played in St. Catharines for two seasons from 2014 to 2016 before being called up by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League. He made his NHL debut with the Islanders on March 2, 2017.

In his 21 games so far, Ho-Sang has 10 points (four goals, six assists) along with 12 penalty minutes and a plus-one rating. There’s always room for improvement, but he’s on the right track. He’s certainly better than some promising rookies who have been selected in the annual NHL drafts.

Desire to Become an NHLer

Many young men want to know what it takes to become an NHL star. Well, Ho-Sang also has that same burning desire, and it’s not always easy.

Let’s take a look back at September 2015 when Ho-Sang apparently forgot to set his alarm clock. He was late for Day 1 of Islanders training camp and was immediately sent back to the juniors. However, he didn’t blame anyone except for himself.

Fast forward to this spring. Ho-Sang blistered a slap shot past Cam Talbot on the power play for his first NHL goal against the Oilers on March 7. The following week, he came to the rescue in the Islanders’ game against the Hurricanes. New York erased a 2-0 deficit and escaped with a 3-2 win. He and Jason Chimera scored two goals in the final 65 seconds to send the game into overtime. John Tavares scored just 34 seconds into overtime to lift his team over Carolina.

Josh Ho-Sang, New York Islanders, NHL
Josh Ho-Sang should have a good season if he can play all 82 games. (Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports)

“Oh, I got time for him,” Islanders head coach Doug Weight told Arthur Staple of Newsday. “And that’s because he’s a good kid, tremendously talented and he plays with no fear and he plays hard. He’ll battle in the corner, creates chances and he wants to learn. Right before he got his breakaway, he was dangling around, looked like he was out there for six minutes on the back check. Looked like he couldn’t take another step and then he’s off because he sees a chance. He created tonight, he played hard, he was better doing some things the way we wanted him to do them. So yeah, I got lots of time for him.”

Food for Thought

He put a couple of shots on goal, made some plays and was stopped on a breakaway in the Islanders’ exhibition game against the Rangers on September 22. He has some chemistry with Anthony Beauvillier, but should be promoted to the second line and maybe even the first. He’s an energetic forward on the ice.

It’s easy to roll your eyes when an Islanders rookie steps onto the scene, but Ho-Sang is a physically gifted player who deserves your attention.