Update: He’s back. Never in doubt...
#Isles Transaction: Josh Ho-Sang has been recalled from Bridgeport (emergency conditions).— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 1, 2017
And before anyone freaks out again:
#Isles will "send" Ho-Sang, Mayfield, Pelech to BPT later today for AHL playoff eligiblity. That's a paper move. Expect JHS to play tomorrow— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) March 1, 2017
Tuesday morning in Islanders Country was EXCITING!
No, they didn’t trade for Matt Duchene, but they called up Joshua Ho-Sang! Whoa! Incredible! And he’s out there practicing with the team, like a real live Islander.
And then, as soon as it started, it was over. The Islanders sent Ho-Sang back to Bridgeport while they boarded a plane to Dallas in early anticipation for Thursday’s game against the Stars without him.
If you were on Twitter this afternoon, that charter plane became the target of a nationwide tracking network of Islanders fans dedicated to uncovering the whereabouts of the team and whether or not Ho-Sang (or anybody else) was with them. He wasn’t.
So, what happened? Doug Weight certainly sounded like he was ready to pencil the kid into the line-up after practice, talking at length with Newsday’s Steve Marcus about how he plans to use Ho-Sang in his first game.
If Ho-Sang returns, he will play against the Stars, coach Doug Weight said. “I expect him to be in the lineup, obviously we’re hovering on March 1st. I don’t foresee a lot or a little [on the trade front]. I don’t know what’s going to go on. We’re talking, we’ll see what happens.’’
Ho-Sang had 10 goals and 26 assists at Bridgeport. “I’m not one to bring guys up and then have them sit,’’ Weight said. “Play will dictate ice time but I expect them to play. He’s not a guy that’s going to come up and help us on the fourth line and be a penalty killer.’’
He even had jokes and everything.
Even the captain had nice words for Josh The Younger.
And look at that smiling face? Are they really gonna pull the rug out from under this goofball by teasing him with one lousy practice?
Maybe not. Sound Tigers beatwriter Michael Fornabaio laid out some of the possible reasoning for the afternoon’s confusion. This is a crazy time of year, with the NHL Trade Deadline not only moving players around but affecting team’s roster sizes and call-up options. And Ho-Sang, as much as it kinda sucked at the time, may have gotten caught in the middle of a few different crossroads.
Sending Ho-Sang back to Bridgeport after Tuesday’s practice left the Islanders with 21 active players a day before the deadline, Wednesday at 3 p.m. That leaves them two under the 23-man limit, a limit that goes away after the deadline.
Both teams next play on Thursday. The Sound Tigers got on the bus early Tuesday to Toronto. The Islanders, with Ho-Sang, practiced on Long Island before flying to Dallas. The Islanders sent the rookie right winger back to Bridgeport after that.
Fornabaio also notes (as does smart guy Torgo from our original Ho-Sang article) that in order to be eligible for the AHL playoffs, Ho-Sang would have to be on an AHL roster as of the deadline. NHL teams are limited to four call-ups after the deadline passes, so we can probably assume that Ho-Sang will be one as soon as the coast is clear.
Finally, forward Kyle Schempp was recalled from Missouri of the ECHL and will join Bridgeport on its road trip. It seems unlikely that both Ho-Sang and Schempp are on their way to Toronto to meet the Sound Tigers for their three-game weekend set.
tl;dr Josh Ho-Sang could still be an Islander before the end of this season. There are a few paper-based reasons for sending him down so quickly, but he’ll probably be re-re-called soon. To call him up, have him practice with the team, have the coach and captain talk about his place in the line-up, then send him back to the AHL on a permanent basis seems cruel and unusual.
And while the Islanders have often been described as both, maybe this time there’s actually a method to the madness.
Or at least, I hope so.