There was a surety to the words Josh Ho-Sang spoke.
His goal, his aspiration, had not changed in a year’s time.
“I don’t think there’s any difference,” Ho-Sang told a small throng of reporters following an on-ice session at Twin Rinks Ice Center at Eisenhower Park during Islanders’ prospect camp. The 28th pick in the 2014 National Hockey League Entry Draft had been asked to compare his second week-long experience with fellow Islanders prospects to his first.
“Last year I wanted to make the team, this year I want to make the team. I think that’s going to be the same way; [going into training camp if] I’m on the team, then I’m going to want to be one of the best players on the team.”
Say this for Ho-Sang: He doesn’t lack for confidence.
At 19, the right wing for the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs has been made into a subject for discussion and dissection because of his self-belief first and then his skill.
Take, for instance, theESPN.comprofile that was published prior to last year’s draft in Philadelphia.
According to the story, executives from teams cross-examined Ho-Sang not about his ability but about his attitude. At that point, the then-Windsor Spitfire was coming off 130 games spanning two seasons in which he compiled a 46-83-129 slash line.
But asport and a league that tends to lean conservative had some reservations about a teenager willing and able to speak his mind.
And so he dropped… and dropped… and dropped…until Garth Snow traded two second round picks to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the 28th overall pick–the pick Tampa acquired from the Rangers in the Martin St. Louis trade–before selecting Ho-Sang.
A few minutes later, Snow welcomed the then-newest Islander to New York by publicly defending him.
“He’ll fit right in,” Snow told NHL Network after the selection was announced. “[Critics] s–t on me, too.” Then, when meeting print and radio reporters, Snow doubled down. “[Critics] can’t s–t on me any more than they do,” Snow said. “I don’t care. We get players that we feel can help us win a championship and we don’t give a s–t what anyone else thinks, except our fans, of course.”
Like his GM, Ho-Sang isn’t concerned how outsiders perceive him.
“It’s important to be confident,” Ho-Sang said. “So you have the ability to do what you’ve been doing your whole life, so you’re not scared. You try to take away that timid side of people and yourself, try to overcome the fears.
“The guys [we’re] playing against, obviously it’s a little overwhelming when you step onto the ice with [Islanders captain] John Tavares for the first time, or [when] you look across the ice and see [Islanders defenseman] Johnny Boychuk. Those are pretty crazy experiences but you have to take that in stride and you have to keep moving forward.”
You can follow NHL writer Denis Gorman on Twitter at @DenisGorman.