Josh Ho-Sang was supposed to be a big part of the New York Islanders future. But the talented forward continues to be his own worst enemy.
Josh Ho-Sang found himself benched this past Wednesday. Except it wasn’t by New York Islanders head coach Doug Weight. It was Brent Thompson, the head coach of the team’s AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers, doing the benching.
“He’s a baby,” Thompson told the New York Post‘s Greg Joyce after benching Ho-Sang this past Wednesday, presumably for disciplinary reasons. “He’s a baby, he’s immature and he’s got a lot of growing to do. I’m excited. The upside of him is outstanding. He worked hard today, he’s been working really hard. We all make mistakes, we all have bad games. It’s how do we respond from those and what do we learn from them? Every piece of this season for Josh, with us, is a development piece. It’s just going to be a longer process with some people.”
As you’d expect, the 21-year-old wasn’t happy about being benched.
“When you start the year in the NHL and then get scratched in the AHL in the same year, it’s kind of … it’s kind of mentally tough, he told Joyce.”
Ho-Sang started the season strong, recording four assists in his first four games with the Isles. But almost as quickly, he wore out his welcome and found himself banished to Weight’s doghouse—and then to the Sound Tigers—all before the end of October.
And while he rejoined the big club a few weeks later on an emergency basis, the über-talented forward believes he’s wasting away in the minors.
“Yeah, I’m only young, but I’m burning years off my NHL career,” he vented to Joyce. “It sucks. You want to be up top. For me, I didn’t look at it this way until this year. I was looking forward to hopefully my first [full] NHL season.”
While Barzal has thrived—he made another bold statement as to why he deserves the Calder Trophy with a five-point effort against the New York Rangers on Saturday—Ho-Sang has not.
It’s never been an issue of talent. In 17 games for Bridgeport, he’s recorded 13 points—four goals and nine assists. It’s always been an issue of maturity.
“I don’t think anybody can break my confidence,” Ho-Sang told Joyce. “But it’s definitely put in a place where it’s not very good. There are certain things I can do on the ice to remind myself of what I am and who I am. But it’s just tough when you have people getting on you and sometimes when everyone’s talking to you about the negative, you may look at yourself negatively.”
None of this should come as a surprise to the Islanders. Questions about his maturity were a major reason why Ho-Sang, who had top 10 talent, fell all the way to 28th in the first-round of the 2014 NHL Draft. The upside is why general manager Garth Snow traded back into the first-round to take Ho-Sang.
But upside and potential only take you so far.
At some point, the Islanders are going to throw their hands in the air, scream “enough!”—and proceed to move Ho-Sang at a fraction of the return a player of his caliber should command.
Let’s hope Ho-Sang figures it all out and grows up before it’s too late—and he either sinks or swims wearing another team’s sweater.