Let the kid play. New York Islanders youngster Josh Ho-Sang shouldn’t be criticized in the least for wanting to wear No. 66.
Since his call-up at the beginning of March, Joshua Ho-Sang has been a great spark plug for the New York Islanders in their push for the playoffs. During his short eight-game career, Ho-Sang has produced three goals and three assists, with the Islanders going 4-3-1 during that span.
As the games go on, you can see the confidence growing within him. After going pointless in his first three games, Ho-Sang now has at least a point in four out of the last five games. He had his best game of his young career Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Coming off an embarrassing loss Monday night to the Hurricanes, the Islanders headed down to Carolina for a rematch Tuesday night. They found themselves trailing 2-0 late in the second period. Ho-Sang got the Islanders on the scoreboard to make it 2-1 at 18:55, after getting a friendly bounce of the puck which hit off Hurricane defender Jaccob Slavin. Less than a minute later, Jason Chimera would score, tying the game at 2-2 heading into the second period.
After a scoreless third period, the game headed into overtime. With less than a minute in, Ho-Sang skated the puck into the Hurricanes and gave a nice drop pass to John Tavares who buried it home for the 3-2 win, giving the Islanders a much-needed two points. Ho-Sang to Tavares. That’s something Islander fans want to hear many times in the near future. Even though it wasn’t his goal, this is the biggest play in Ho-Sang’s brief career.
But Ho-Sang has been creating a buzz over the waves of the internet not about his play, but rather the number on his back. He wears the number 66, which is also the same as Pittsburgh Penguin great Mario Lemieux. This stirred up arguments across social media.
The fact that this is even a debate is a flat out joke. So players cannot pay respect to their heroes by wearing their numbers anymore? Ho-Sang, who has worn the number since age 15, chose this number to show respect to Lemieux, not to disrespect him.
“It’s honoring and just, I think a lot more people remember who he is now because they’re yelling at me about wearing the number, right? I think that’s cool too,” Ho-Sang told Arthur Staple of Newsday regarding wearing number 66.
“There’s a lot of light being shined on an amazing player. By no means am I trying to be better than or trying to prove anything. For me, it’s definitely a tribute to a great player. If he asked me not to wear it, I’d definitely consider it, but I haven’t gotten any phone calls or anything. So, for now, I’m gonna wear it.”
Ho-Sang is the second player to wear the number since Lemieux retired. Back in 2010, TJ Brodie was assigned number 66 for his rookie season with the Calgary Flames. After outrage from Penguin fans, Brodie wore No. 7 the following year to appease them. It’s good to see Ho-Sang stand up for himself and not be bullied by a rival fan base and other critics.
Mario Lemieux is one of the greatest hockey players of all-time, that is no question, but just because he is one of the greats doesn’t mean his number should never be worn again by a player of every NHL team, let alone a division rival. You always see athletes across all sports honoring their favorite players and legends of the game by wearing their numbers, so why is this one a big deal?
But, apparently, Josh Ho-Sang cannot wear 66? Get out of here.
Why should Lemieux’s number be in a league of its own and not to be worn while other NHL legends jersey numbers are still being circulated today? These guys’ legacies are right up there with Lemieux and you do not see people complaining about players wearing their respected numbers. The only NHL legend exempted from all of this is Wayne Gretzky. His number 99 was retired by the NHL upon his retirement in 1999, so no one will ever wear that number again.
Most of this outrage has come out of Pittsburgh and among their fans. We understand. You are triggered by the fact that a player became only the second player to wear 66 since Lemieux retired, but you guys need to relax. It’s not like he has 2,857 career points (952 more points than Jaromir Jagr in second place) or broke a racial color barrier and deserves the respect to have his number retired across the league.
Mario Lemieux is one of the greatest players to ever play in the NHL, but he shouldn’t get special treatment over other NHL greats. The Penguins already retired his number in 1997. Don’t dictate players numbers for opposing teams.
Hopefully, this stupid debate blows over soon and we can all look back on it saying, “we really argued over that?”