New York Islanders rookie Joshua Ho-Sang made his NHL debut March 2nd in Dallas. He has been wearing 66 and that has had some fans around the NHL up in arms. For no good reason what-so-ever.
Ho-Sang has been a polarizing figure since the New York Islanders selected him 28th overall in the 2014 draft. At the time it was thought he dropped in the draft due to attitude concerns. This, of course, is the player who scored a goal in juniors and proceeded to “Bernie” past the opposing team’s bench.
Ho-Sang was also the player who was sent home from camp last year because he overslept on the first day of camp. Hearing Ho-Sang’s name come up for the wrong reasons hasn’t been too surprising early on in his young career.
Since being called up from Bridgeport in the AHL, Ho-Sang has been good. He’s both played well and has been on his best behavior. Yet he still found himself in the middle of a controversy. This controversy, of course, is over the fact that he’s wearing Mario Lemieux‘s number 66.
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In choosing 66, Ho-Sang became the sixth player to wear the number in an NHL game. He’s the first player since Flames T.J Brodie wore it briefly in 2010-11 before switching to 7. To some, anybody wearing 66 is just unacceptable.
Honoring Favorite Players
Many players choose to wear the numbers their heroes wore. Ho-Sang’s favorite player was Lemieux and he wears 66 to honor Lemieux.
In a Newsday article by Arthur Staple, Ho-Sang says how he’s been wearing the number since he was 15. If you notice in the video above Ho-Sang is donning a 66 jersey.
Baseball players still wear number three even though Babe Ruth was arguably the best baseball player ever. Basketball players wear 23, even though in 2009 Lebron James said no player should wear it out of respect for Michael Jordan.
Mikko Koivu wears number 9. A number famously worn by none other than Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe. A player so revered even the Great One, Wayne Gretzky (the only one with his number retired league wide) called him: “the greatest player ever“. Where’s the outcry there?
There isn’t because Mikko isn’t doing anything wrong. The league hasn’t retired 66 league wide, and thus there should be no issue with Ho-Sang wearing 66.
Lemieux was one of the greatest players to lace up the skates, but only Wayne Gretzky‘s 99 is retired league wide. Ho-Sang has every right to honor his childhood idol and wear 66. This controversy should die down and let young Josh Ho-Sang create his own legend.