Josh Ho-Sang wasn’t on time on the first day of the New York Islanders training camp his rookie year, a transgression that prompted the National Hockey League team to immediately ship the talented forward back to junior hockey.
Ho-Sang was right on time Tuesday night – scoring his first NHL goal on a wicked one-time slap shot that helped the Islanders beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 in Edmonton.
Ho-Sang’s goal came in his fourth NHL game at 17:23 minutes of the first period on a power play shot that blew past Oilers goalie Cam Talbot.
Islanders forward Andrew Ladd retrieved the puck as a keepsake for Ho-Sang, the son of a black Jamaican father of Chinese descent and a Jewish Chilean mother with Russian and Swedish bloodlines.
The Islanders chose Ho-Sang in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft with the 28th overall pick. The move was viewed as controversial at the time – the Islanders made a trade to get the pick – because Ho-Sang was considered to be too outspoken, too flashy, and too immature by several NHL general managers and scouts.
There’s no denying his talent.Still, several hockey purists are annoyed that Ho-Sang has been wearing Number 66 – digits that Pittsburgh Penguins forward Mario Lemieux wore during his Hockey Hall of Fame career – since being called up by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Islanders’ American Hockey League farm team.
But Ho-Sang has worn the number throughout his career in honor of Lemieux. He even wore it when he was a linemate of Oilers’ superstar Connor McDavid when they played for the Toronto Malboros youth hockey program.
“It’s not disrespect,” Ho-Sang told New York’s Newsday before the Isles-Oilers game. “If anything, it’s the ultimate respect.”
McDavid told the paper that his former youth hockey teammate is sometimes misunderstood.
“He says what’s on his mind and you have to respect that,” McDavid said.