Garth Snow defends move up to draft Joshua Ho-Sang
PHILADELPHIA - It was the ultimate Islanders moment: The defiant team that does things its own way, led by the defiant general manager who quietly does things his own way, selecting the outsized talent who, sometimes to his detriment, does things his own way.
Garth Snow already had made a chalk pick at No. 5 in Oshawa wing Michael Dal Colle. With two second-round picks, Nos. 35 and 57, in a fairly weak draft, Snow wanted to get a dynamic player at the tail end of Friday's first round. Perhaps make a splash and spice up the Isles' prospect pool.
So Snow dealt both his second-rounders to the Lightning for the No. 28 pick and selected Windsor winger Joshua Ho-Sang, a superbly skilled player who's been left off Canadian junior teams and was left off any number of NHL teams' draft lists for what many consider a bad attitude.
Confronted live on TSN with such opinions about Ho-Sang on Friday night, Snow, with a devilish grin, told host James Duthie: "He'll fit right in. They [expletive] on me, too."
Welcome to the Islanders, young man.
"I think I'm outspoken and I'm a little bit more opinionated than most people like," Ho-Sang told the media after his selection. "But I think that's just part of growing up, and I'm definitely learning the areas where I can and can't be. I'm just working on that moving forward."
Windsor GM and former NHL enforcer Warren Rychel called Ho-Sang "the most talented guy we've had" in his eight seasons running the Spitfires. The 18-year-old from Toronto had 85 points this past season for Windsor but didn't make the Canadian World Junior team.
Ho-Sang's father, Wayne, was born in Jamaica; his mother, Ericka, was born in Chile and he celebrates Greek Orthodox and Jewish holidays thanks to religious ties on both sides of his family. Ho-Sang talks about being an entertainer.
Ho-Sang recounted his Friday for reporters that night, beginning with an afternoon trip to the Rodin Museum with his folks. "I'm really into art, actually," he said.
It ended with phone calls from John Tavares and Kyle Okposo that left Ho-Sang a bit speechless, which seems to be something of an accomplishment.
He thought he might not be picked until Saturday despite having widely acknowledged first-round talent. "You want to be with people who believe in you and who think that you can do great things, because that's how you get there," he said. "You need to be pushed . . . I'll give [the Islanders] everything I have. I'll push until I can't breathe."
And Snow clearly has his new prospect's back. "Thank goodness when I was that age they didn't have social media, cellphone pictures, videos," the GM said. "I wouldn't be the altar boy I am today."
Snow may not have come across as pure on TSN, but that was brewing for months. The Islanders were in Edmonton on trade deadline day in March and every player watched as the former NHLers commenting on the network bashed Snow and the Isles for the failed Thomas Vanek maneuver and the poor return on the deadline deal with Montreal.
Nobody was happy. A couple of Islanders players privately enjoyed Snow's on-air jab from Friday as the team heads into the season seemingly united in an us-against-the-world mentality.
As for any concerns Snow had about Ho-Sang, he was succinct again, this time away from the TSN cameras. "We get the players that we feel can help us win a championship. I don't give a [expletive] what anyone else thinks," Snow said. "Except our fans, of course."