The New York Islanders traded back into the first round and selected Josh Ho-Sang with the 28th pick in the NHL draft Friday night. Islanders GM Garth Snow apparently saw something of a kindred spirit in the much-discussed 18-year-old out of the Ontario Hockey League because now he thinks he's got someone new for the press to "shit on."
As referenced by TSN's James Duthie, plenty was written about Ho-Sang, who somewhere I'm sure was referred to as "mercurial." He is young, cocky, and comes from Jamaican and Jewish backgrounds. Mostly, though, he's not a bullshitter, which makes people nervous.
"I think colour definitely plays a factor in perception," said Ho-Sang.
"People watch my games and are very critical. When I start dangling, my GM calls me a Harlem Globetrotter. Why am I a Harlem Globetrotter? Analogies get related to basketball all the time with me. I don't play basketball. I've never played basketball. I'm a hockey player. Why are they doing that?
"When I do anything, I'm just another black kid with attitude. I think I get misunderstood because these guys want to figure me out without talking to me and try to come up with every single reason why there's something wrong with me.
"With all this going on, the only place I can win this argument is on the ice."
Read enough about Ho-Sang and you'll find people struggling to explain why Conservative Hockey is skeptical of a young, black hockey player who doesn't read from a script. And you will read a lot of apologist-speak about how teams are scared of this teenager who is objectively talented, but maybe "too smart" for his own good. The Maples Leafs director of player development actually said "[s]ometimes I think his intelligence gets him in trouble."
He's been heavily critiqued (in code) for not having his head on straight or for being selfish—he had to sit out a game for a missed morning skate—and for some reason not making the Hockey Canada under-18 team. 18 of the 30 NHL teams didn't even interview him at the combine. Some even have Ho-Sang on their Do Not Draft List.
Garth Snow said Fuck all that, he's good. I'll take him.