Islanders kill buzz of winning streak by demoting Ho-Sang


Look, Josh Ho-Sang isn’t a perfect player, but he makes the NHL more fun. And, if deployed properly, probably makes the New York Islanders a more dangerous team.

Apparently generating four points (all assists) in six regular-season games didn’t make up for Ho-Sang’s flaws, at least in the eyes of Islanders management, as they sent the gifted, outspoken forward to the AHL today.

For someone without a real horse in the Islanders’ race – i.e. someone who enjoys the sport as a whole – this is a real bummer, especially with the Isles otherwise trending up with three straight wins and victories in four of five contests.

It’s not as clear-cut when you consider things from the Islanders’ perspective, though (even if, personally, Ho-Sang seems like he’s worth the trouble that comes with some risky plays).

To some, this is another step in the maturation process, and the Isles’ winning ways – sometimes with the forward in street clothes – makes this a reasonable opportunity.

There are others in the middle: understanding the Islanders’ perspective, but frustrated that the franchise won’t try to tweak things to make the most of an interesting talent.

You can find the silver lining of situations like these, yet in some ways, such viewpoints feel like they lose sight of blurrier bigger pictures. It’s a lot like trying to rationalize Dylan Strome being demoted; yes, there are some reasons things might work out, but there are also some worrisome elements regarding how the Islanders view Ho-Sang and develop prospects, in general.

While Ho-Sang isn’t perfect, it could end up being quite frustrating for Islanders fans to watch more marginal players do very little for their team (but maybe slip under the radar compared to Ho-Sang).

Selfishly, it’s most clearly a loss from an entertainment standpoint, so here’s hoping we see Ho-Sang again soon.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Ho-Sang/reason returns to Islanders’ lineup


One can quibble about a flaw or two in a young player’s game, and NHL coaches certainly seem to focus on those errors, sometimes arguably while giving low-ceiling grinders a pass.*

Such decisions go from “frustrating the nerds” to irritating a wider range of a fan base after losses. Fair or not, that’s the nature of the beast.

So you can bet that there were some New York Islanders fans’ who went from irritated when Josh Ho-Sang was a healthy scratch for their season-opener to irate when the Columbus Blue Jackets dominated the Isles 5-0.

Ho-Sang might not have the same ceiling, but seeing Artemi Panarin dazzle with his creativity likely twisted the knife deeper.

Well, whether an injury to Cal Clutterbuck is the catalyst or not, Ho-Sang is back in the Islanders’ lineup as they take on the Buffalo Sabres tonight.

This is a delight not just for Islanders fanatics, but hockey enthusiasts at large, as Ho-Sang is one of those players who brings a little art to this fast, violent game.

Now, as much as Islanders fans are frustrated with Ho-Sang’s scratch, they can at least find company in such misery.

Really, the Vancouver Canucks scratching Brock Boeser is even more head-scratching than number 66 sitting for the Islanders, as Boeser stands as one of the few players some Vancouver fans look forward to seeing.

There also might be some sadness for Edmonton Oilers fans who wanted another glimpse of Kailer Yamamoto, although Oilers fans don’t have much to complain about these days.

Just looking at the New Jersey Devils running rampant with rookies, you wonder if some NHL teams are giving up precious points by being too afraid to hand the keys over to their more talented (and yes, maybe riskier) players.

The Islanders would be wise to keep Ho-Sang in their mix going forward.

* – As a reminder, Dan Girardi, for all the hustle-love he gets, made this blunder last night.

Joshua Ho-Sang a healthy scratch for Islanders opener


Interesting lineup decision for New York Islanders coach Dough Weight when his team opens the 2017-18 season on Friday night.

Forward Josh Ho-Sang, one of the team’s best young players, will be a healthy scratch when the team hosts the Buffalo Sabres.

Veteran forward Jason Chimera will be in the lineup in his place.

Weight has said this preseason he is not afraid to give ice-time to the team’s younger players, and to an extent that seems to be true as Matthew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier will both be in the lineup on Friday.

The fact that Ho-Sang is the odd-man out, though, is a little surprising given how strong of a preseason he had and how promising he looked last season in his limited look with the big club, recording 10 points and a 52 percent Corsi rating in 21 games while also playing an extremely exciting brand of hockey.

The 38-year-old Chimera played in all 82 games for the Islanders a season ago scoring 20 goals.

Defenseman Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock are also healthy scratches for the Islanders on Friday.

Sharks’ Joel Ward ‘wouldn’t say no’ to kneeling during national anthem


It’s unclear if San Jose Sharks winger Joel Ward will end up being the first black NHL player to kneel during the national anthem, following in the footsteps of Colin Kaepernick and other professional athletes.

Ward might be the first one to state that he’s mulling it over, though.

Earlier today, PHT took a look at how NHL players are reacting to the controversy surrounding Donald Trump and the NFL, including Kyle Okposo and Josh Ho-Sang in this follow-up.

Ward, 36, probably provided the rawest take so far, as he told the Mercury News’ Paul Gackle that he might just kneel during the national anthem, and also shared his experiences dealing with racism in hockey and in a broader sense.

“It’s definitely something I wouldn’t cross out,” Ward said of possibly kneeling.

“I’ve experienced a lot of racism myself in hockey and on a day-to-day occurrence. I haven’t really sat down to think about it too much yet, but I definitely wouldn’t say no to it.”

Ward really opened up to Gackle, speaking of experiences as both a child and an adult.

As a reminder, the veteran forward dealt with racist and threatening comments after scoring a Game 7 overtime-winning goal against the Boston Bruins during a 2012 playoff series when he was a member of the Washington Capitals. Ward was contacted by the FBI after facing death threats.

MORE: Joel Ward on racism in hockey: “It’s a battle I think will always be there.”

Again, Ward isn’t guaranteeing that he will make such a gesture during one or more anthem performances. It’s courageous for him to be so open about the possibility – and his own feelings on the matter – either way.

Update: Ward expanded upon the issue in this tweet on Thursday:

More on this issue

Penguins make controversial decision to accept White House invitation.

Donald Trump tweets about their visit.

Auston Matthews and others on the subject.

Ho-Sang, Okposo also weigh in.

Laraque, Okposo, others discuss Trump, national anthem protests


We’ve already seen some reactions to Donald Trump’s comments about NFL athletes kneeling during the national anthem and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ controversial decision to accept a White House visit.

As Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski notes, 93 percent of NHL players identify as white. While it’s interesting to hear from the likes of Auston Matthews and Blake Wheeler, what about hockey players who are more directly affected?

Plenty of interesting perspectives came through on Tuesday, so let’s consider some of the more fascinating reactions.

Georges Laraque disapproves of Penguins’ visit

Laraque, a black former NHL player and Montreal native, made it clear that he doesn’t agree with the Penguins’ decision, as he told the Canadian Press.

“I know hockey’s more conservative than other sports, but this time it’s just wrong,” Laraque said. “I’m surprised the NHL didn’t make a stand.”

“To me, it’s an embarrassment that they’re going.”

He also shared this slightly profane tweet on the matter.

Josh Ho-Sang is inspired by the protests

New York Islanders forward Josh Ho-Sang provided an interesting take to Newsday’s Arthur Staple, and also reminded observes that, as an international sport, the NHL features some players who might not feel as invested in (or at least as informed about) these debates.

“I think what the NFL players are doing is amazing. It’s good that they’re all sticking together,” Ho-Sang said on Monday. “I mean, I’m Canadian, so I don’t have too much input on the matter itself. It will affect me living in the States, but the biggest thing is it’s unfortunate that the message may have gotten lost a little. Now it’s becoming a battle between the NFL and the president and originally [the protests] started because of police brutality and the mistreatment of different races.”

Kyle Okposo doesn’t plan on kneeling, but supports the right to do so

While Ho-Sang and Laraque shared interesting insights as Canadians, Kyle Okposo is a black NHL forward hailing from Minnesota (he was the first black player in Golden Gophers history).

Like Ho-Sang, Okposo (pictured) was supportive of people making demonstrations. That said, he doesn’t expect to do so himself, as he told the Buffalo News’ John Vogl.

“Protecting the First Amendment is a huge thing,” Okposo said. “I’m a proud American, and I’m proud to be from the United States. Myself personally, I wouldn’t kneel for an anthem, but I respect those that do.”


This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the current political climate affect NHL players or people they know.

Back in January, New York Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad, was “confused” by that iteration of a travel ban, as the Swedish forward had family living in Iran.

Players in plenty of sports are navigating tough questions this week. It’s important to remember that athletes can find themselves in tough spots when addressing topics that can be polarizing and/or complex.

Laraque stated that hockey is more “conservative than other sports,” so it seems like a good time to read up on the culture of this sport.

With the regular season about to kick into gear on Oct. 4, it’s certain that there will be more eyes on anthems than ever before. The insights in this post should be useful, whether NHL players kneel, sit, speak, or decide to stick to hockey.