Josh Ho-Sang was looking forward, not back when he met with reporters on Friday, following the first day of rookie camp.
To say that Ho-Sang, 22, had a frustrating campaign during the 2017-18 campaign would be an understatement. Ho-Sang appeared in just 22 games last season and recorded 12 points (two goals, 10 assists), and spent most of the year in the American Hockey League.
To compound things even more, comments by Bridgeport Sound Tigers head coach Brent Thompson created a stir in the middle of the year. And Ho-Sang’s own comments that appeared to criticize management’s decision to send him down to the AHL created a bit of controversy towards the end of the year.
But six months removed from those remarks Ho-Sang is ready to put it all behind him. “I don’t want to talk about that,” Ho-Sang said in response to a question about last season’s controversy.
This year, however, offers the young forward another chance at a clean slate, but could also be his final shot to make a mark with the Islanders. A major overhaul with the front office and coaching staff means Ho-Sang will have to make an impression on a staff that isn’t as familiar with him, but may not have the same preconceived notions as the previous administration.
“This is the start of a new regime with a lot of prior success,” Ho-Sang told reporters. “We’re just hoping to follow their winning mentality and their winning ways.”
Ho-Sang wouldn’t discuss specifics about what he had talked about with new Islanders head coach Barry Trotz and the new coaching staff, but did call them positive interactions and teachings.
The 2017-18 season did take a toll on Ho-Sang, he said, but it also served as a learning experience for the young Islander. He had to become stronger mentally, he told reporters.
“I never had a year like I did last year,” Ho-Sang said. “It’s not even to do with hockey. It was just a hard year for me. I feel happy and healthier (this season) and I’m excited for the year.”
Controversy has followed Ho-Sang since junior hockey and even before last season there had been some issue. Ho-Sang was late to the first day of training camp in 2015 and was sent back to juniors and he was slow to get going during his first pro season during the 2016-17 campaign.
Still, the charismatic 22-year-old has plenty of upside and showed that same 2016-17 season that he can be a formidable player in the NHL. Appearing in 21 games a the end of that year, Ho-Sang had 10 points (four goals, six assists) in that span and created a buzz whenever he stepped onto the ice.
So, Ho-Sang has the ability and he’s looking forward to the fresh start he gets with Trotz and new general manager Lou Lamoriello.
“I’m happy with the opportunity to get a fresh start,” Ho-Sang said. “I think everyone here is, not just me. I think that there’s lots of people who are looking to find a way to win and have success. That’s the most important thing and I think that we’re focused on that as a group on the whole. I think it’s something that’s very achievable.”
Ho-Sang’s appearance at rookie camp means that he gets an earlier chance to hit the ice and prepare for the main camp next week. The former first-round was also on Long Island earlier in the summer for prospect camp.
“It’s great to see the young talent we have coming up,” Ho-Sang said. “In a lot of ways, it’s better to be part of this prior because you get to see everyone who’s chasing you. You see that you really want to get on that NHL team because these guys are hungry.”