With a twist worthy of his unpredictable career with the organization, Josh Ho-Sang is on the verge of making his NHL debut with the Islanders.
The 2014 first-round pick, who was considered a controversial selection because of potential issues with his attitude, arrived as an emergency call-up from Bridgeport for Tuesday’s optional skate at Northwell Ice Center, but was sent right back to the team’s AHL affiliate after practice.
No, Ho-Sang did not do anything wrong in the three hours he was with the team.
The 21-year-old forward is expected to fill in for injured Alan Quine, who is not making the remainder of the nine-game road trip that resumes Thursday in Dallas. Ho-Sang’s status is not believed to be related to the Islanders possibly making a deal before Wednesday’s trade deadline.
The Islanders recalled Ho-Sang on an emergency basis once again on Wednesday morning. The team is expected to send Ho-Sang and Adam Pelech back to Bridgeport later Wednesday, a paper move that gives them AHL playoff eligibility. Ho-Sang is expected to play against the Stars on Thursday.
“I expect him to be in the lineup, obviously we’re hovering on March 1st," coach Doug Weight said Tuesday. I don’t foresee a lot or a little [on the trade front]. I don’t know what’s going to go on. We’re talking, we’ll see what happens.’’
Ho-Sang had 10 goals and 26 assists at Bridgeport. “I’m not one to bring guys up and then have them sit,’’ Weight said. “Play will dictate ice time but I expect them to play. He’s not a guy that’s going to come up and help us on the fourth line and be a penalty killer.’’
It seems Ho-Sang has been paying penance since September, 2015, when he overslept and missed the shuttle to the Islanders’ first day of training camp. General manager Garth Snow tossed him from camp and issued a verbal wake-up call that resonates to this day.
“I’m excited with the changes I’ve made to get here,’’ Ho-Sang said. “On a personal level, I’m not really going to discuss all those [issues]. But I’m a better person now then I was three years ago and I think that everything happens for a reason. It’s helped me change a lot, make a lot of changes in my lifestyle which have been beneficial.’’
Ho-Sang had some healthy scratches at Bridgeport and coach Brent Thompson reportedly said Ho-Sang has to have effort on and off the ice. Ho-Sang would not discuss the scratches, saying, “I don’t really have any comment about that; it is what it is. I’m just happy to be here right now.’’
Weight said Ho-Sang will be held accountable because “Nothing’s ever behind you because people will always talk about it . . . I’ve talked to Josh already [about] what’s expected of him. Those things just don’t go away, so we’re going to talk to him about it. And make sure he’s ready to be a pro up here because nothing else is going to be tolerated. He’s got a great attitude. He’s a good kid. He’s a good player.’’
Captain John Tavares added, “Certainly he’s had his ups and downs. I think as you get older you start to realize things, understand you only get so many opportunities in life. For him I think that would be my message. You got a great opportunity ahead of you now. This is what you worked for, make sure you make the most of it.’’