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Josh Ho-Sang, Connor McDavid are old teammates in youth hockey

Dallas Stars' Esa Lindell (23) backs up while

Dallas Stars' Esa Lindell (23) backs up while defending as New York Islanders' Joshua Ho-Sang (66) moves the puck up ice during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, March 2, 2017, in Dallas. The game was Ho-Sang's first NHL career start. Photo Credit: AP / Tony Gutierrez

EDMONTON, Alberta — Connor McDavid and Josh Ho-Sang go way back — as far back as a couple of young players just 20 and 21 years old can, anyway.

McDavid and Ho-Sang were linemates on the Toronto Marlboros, a vaunted youth hockey program in Canada’s hockey hometown — John Tavares and Ryan Strome were also Marlboros — and McDavid, the NHL’s top scorer, and Ho-Sang, playing his fourth NHL game on Tuesday, were pretty pumped to square off in the bigs.

“He’s not just an All-Star on the ice, he’s an All-Star of a person, too,” Ho-Sang said of McDavid. “He’s a genuinely good human being.”

McDavid said his old friend is sometimes “misunderstood.”

“He says what’s on his mind and you have to respect that,” he said of Ho-Sang.

The subject of Ho-Sang wearing No. 66 (Mario Lemieux’s number) came up in both locker rooms on Tuesday morning, a strange topic here of all places considering that No. 99 is the one that’s retired league-wide.

“I’m not going to get into that,” McDavid said. “A lot of opinions out there on that.”

Ho-Sang gave another thoughtful answer that would well serve to put this non-issue to bed.

“It’s not disrespect,” he said. “If anything it’s the ultimate respect.”

Boychuk still sidelined

Edmonton native Johnny Boychuk missed his second straight game with a foot injury, the result of blocking a shot in Chicago on Friday. Adam Pelech, a former Ontario League teammate of McDavid’s, took Scott Mayfield’s spot in the lineup as the only change from Sunday’s loss in Calgary.

Doug Weight switched his defense pairs around to start Tuesday’s game, putting Calvin de Haan with Travis Hamonic and Thomas Hickey with Dennis Seidenberg. Shane Prince also switched onto the left side with Brock Nelson and Ho-Sang, while Andrew Ladd started the game with Ryan Strome and Jason Chimera.

New York Sports