Windsor Spitfires star Josh Ho-Sang became an instant anti-hero before the NHL draft, touching off a kerfuffle with his criticisms of how he believed he was being judged by scouts and by Hockey Canada. The 18-year-old hardly distanced himself from those remarks after the New York Islanders stepped up to select him late in the first round. Diehard Islanders fans, who surely know from feeling prejudged, ave embraced their organization adding a polarizing prospect.
Meantime, Hockey Canada once again declined to include Ho-Sang in its summer development camp. He was sixth in points among underage players (those 17 or younger at the start of the 2013-14 season) in the Ontario Hockey League despite arguably being surrounded by less premium talent than the other five. All five, each of whom arguably had more premium talent around him on his OHL team than Ho-Sang did over the full run of his season in Windsor, were in Canada's camp earlier this month.
It would be easy for Ho-Sang to say this is all in the past. Instead, he doubled down, calling it "insulting" that he hasn't invited. Neither Ho-Sang nor Hockey Canada will say what off-ice factors might play into this, which means the controversy should continue to simmer.
From Dave McCarthy (@DaveAMcCarthy):
"The fact that I haven't been invited to a camp, it's insulting," Ho-Sang said frankly. "I've done nothing to them (Hockey Canada). It's not like they invited me to U17 and U18 and I messed up at all that stuff. I haven't been invited back since my first year in the OHL in December [for the world under-17 challenge — Ed.]. It's been a year and a half; I haven't been a part of any Hockey Canada stuff."
But he has a philosophy as to why invites have not been coming his way.
"They can't invite me to that stuff because they're afraid," he said. "If I go there and do well, then they have no reason not to put me on the World Junior team." Asked directly why Hockey Canada wouldn't want him on that team, Ho-Sang, looking puzzled, responded, "I don't know."
"If you're going to alienate an 18-year-old kid, like good job. Their job is development and progression of Canadian hockey. If I am a problem child, that means they don't like problems, that they have an issue with fixing things, that they like when things are easy. That actually means that they don't possess the ability to develop and that they are just taking players to fit their role that have been developed somewhere else."
Hockey Canada declined to comment on this story. (TSN.ca)
Most of the reaction has focused on Ho-Sang, either with people rallying to the cause or striking a how-dare-he kind of tone. Edmonton Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens was in the first camp.
It is refreshing that there is at least one 18-year-old NHL prospect able and willing to speak his mind about how Hockey Canada looks at players and by extension, the sport's insistence that players display false modesty. The current five-year world junior championship gold-medal drought probably also means there's a more eager audience for such criticisms. Ho-Sang's general manager in Windsor, Warren Rychel, was also very candid about what went wrong at the 2014 world junior championship following Canada's second fourth-place finish in a row. Ho-Sang is drawing the focus to himself, which is honest, but the heat can be applied to more than one place.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.