New York Islanders: Josh Ho-Sang Don’t Be The Mario Balotelli of Hockey

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MILAN, ITALY - MAY 01: Mario Balotelli of AC Milan reacts during the Serie A match between AC Milan and Frosinone Calcio at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 1, 2016 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

New York Islanders Josh Ho-Sang is in hot water again. Not for being benched or scratched, but for being a “baby” and “immature” according to his coach.

So rookie/prospect Josh Ho-Sang is a “baby” and “Immature” according to his Bridgeport Sound Tigers coach Brent Thompson. Add it to the list of hiccups in the Josh Ho-Sang affair with the Isles. Even if Thompson meant that in relation to Ho-Sang's age, it's still tough language from the bench boss.

Since he’s been drafted there have been a number of issues between the club and Josh Ho-Sang. He’s slept in late and missed the first day of training camp. In his first AHL season, he couldn’t follow instructions from the coaching staff, leading to him being benched and scratched.

And now, once again it seems that Josh can’t follow instructions, or is butting heads with the Head Coach. Or something else is going on that’s pushed Thompson to use those words to describe the former first-round pick.

Look, we all knew the road would be bumpy with Ho-Sang. We all knew it before he was even drafted. Steve Simmons made it very clear to the hockey world what they were getting with Ho-Sang. An incredibly gifted player, with the ability to make things complicated. (That’s putting it lightly).

I’m not taking sides here. I’m sure both the organization and the player have a part to play in this drama. But only the player can fix this before it gets worse.

Mario Balotelli

For those who don’t watch soccer, you might not know who Mario Balotelli is. But the comparison here is spot on. Balotelli is a 27-year-old footballer currently playing for Nice in the French Ligue 1. Their top-flight soccer league.

For years Balotelli was the wonder kid of Italian soccer. Supremely gifted, Balotelli made a name for himself as an elite level goal-scorer that could play at the top of the football world. He had one big flaw; his attitude.

For all his talent, Balotelli just couldn’t be coached. There are countless examples of Balotelli catching the ire of his manager, none more memorable than during a summer tour in the US. In July of 2011, his Manchester City side played the LA Galaxy in a friendly when in the 28th minute Balotelli pulled this cheeky move that failed miserably.

As you can see his manager was fuming. Absolutely enraged. Balotelli was subbed off instantly. And so began the steady downfall of Mario Balotelli. Once considered a prized possession for any team, he’s absolutely toxic now. No one will touch him. He ended in in Nice on a free transfer. Contrary to the £24 million Manchester City paid for him.

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Don’t Be Him

The story around Mario Balotelli now isn’t his skills or his potential, It’s the baggage that comes with the player. The drama and the difficulties. At 27-years-old it’s not too late for Balotelli to turn it around, but it’s incredibly improbable.

At 21-years-old it’s far from too late for Josh Ho-Snag. It's trending that way, though. Before I wrote this I had a piece detailing why I want to trade Ho-Sang and be done with it. I want to give Ho-sang the benefit of the doubt, but this has gone on too frequently to be simply in the organization.

Josh Ho-Sang has all the talent in the world. I still believe he can be the best player in his draft class. But he’s got to start earning some trust. I don’t think he needs to change his game in order to do so. But he’s got to start doing enough to gain the trust and respect of those around him, like his coach.

There’s work to do, and Josh Ho-Sang needs to figure out how he can make this all work. If not, there are examples out there, like Mario Balotelli, for Ho-Sang to draw from.