Doug Weight said Friday that Josh Ho-Sang’s comments criticizing how the Islanders have treated him this season were “disappointing,” but that he would not hold them against the 22-year-old forward.
Ho-Sang was sent to Bridgeport after the team said he needed to work on his defense.
“I think the natural reaction, the defensive reaction is to tell him to look in the mirror, look at his production, look at what he’s done,” Weight said after an optional morning skate at Northwell Health Ice Center. “The other reaction should be from us. We should look in the mirror. We should all learn from these events and look to them. Most importantly, we should discuss it with him rather than discuss it through these cameras and we will do that.”
Weight said he was specifically disappointed that Ho-Sang didn’t speak to the team directly, but rather aired his grievances in an interview to The Athletic in an article that was published Thursday. Ho-Sang indicated to The Athletic that he felt singled out by the organization.
“Sure, it’s eye-opening, and an emotional thing for him,” Weight said. “He wants to be in the NHL. That’s where we want him. We have never singled him out in that fashion . . . There’s not a guy in this organization in the last year and a half that I’ve spent more time with, either. I was disappointed in that.”
Though he agreed there were things he needed to work on, Ho-Sang noted that sending him down has not fixed the team’s defensive woes. Going into Friday’s game against the Maple Leafs, the Islanders were tops in the NHL in goals against at 276. They also have the worst shots on goal differential at minus 336.
“I got sent down for defense and what are they in goals against in the NHL?” Ho-Sang said in the interview. “I only played  games up there this year. I don’t think it’s my fault. They really painted it like it was my fault at the beginning of the year and I didn’t like that.”
He called the team’s public criticism of his play “unwarranted.”
“There were some comments about me when I wasn’t in the NHL, so I wasn’t affecting the team, but they were focused on my defense and my turnovers,” he said. “If you’re going to send me down because of defense, it’d be nice to see other people be held accountable.”
Ho-Sang is a skilled skater, and has repeatedly shown he can score on the NHL level, but his propensity for turnovers and what the Islanders see as a lack of attention on the defensive end have earned him more than a few trips to Bridgeport. That, coupled with some off-the-ice factors, have so far stalled his career.
“I’ve watched every single game he played with him in my office ‘til 4 o’clock in the afternoon,” Weight said. “Every single game. And talked about his off ice, talked about the on ice. I have compassion for him. I like him. So that was disappointing, but I get it. There’s frustration. Hopefully he got it off his chest, but we have to move forward and we have to do it face to face and that’s the last I’m going to discuss that.”
“People are emotional,” he added. “It’s a game where a lot of people don’t speak in the media like Josh does. It’s a free country, that’s for sure. It doesn’t bring a brush out for me to paint him with or to knock him down in our organization.”