The Islanders entered the 2018-19 season with a new regime led by team president Lou Lamoriello and Stanley Cup-winning head coach Barry Trotz.
But Josh Ho-Sang, the Isles' first-round pick (No. 28 overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft, says he's been offered anything but a fresh start. In fact, the 22-year-old believes he wasn't given a fair shot at making the NHL squad during training camp, instead being sent down to the AHL for the second straight season.
"I felt like they had their minds made up on what was going to happen and what the team was going to look like," Ho-Sang told the New York Post on Monday. "It's OK. They had the whole summer to plan that. I don't know if you watched any of the games, but I didn't play a lot. It's OK. It is what it is."
"There's no such thing as fair," the winger added. "It doesn't exist, as much as we like it to."
Ho-Sang played with the Islanders for the first 22 games of last season, but his struggles led to his December demotion to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He later publicly questioned the move, which prompted a pointed response from then-coach Doug Weight. The drama surrounding Ho-Sang goes back to his first day of his first training camp, when he was ordered to run the stairs at the Nassau Coliseum as punishment for oversleeping.
Ho-Sang said his growth as a player is being stunted down in the minors.
"They tell me they want me to be a top-six forward up there, but I'm not a top-six forward down here, so it's confusing," he told the Post. "Sometimes, it's like you're sprinting with a rubber band on. You constantly have tension. You run until you're exhausted and then the band is going to pull you back. If I was going to say anything, it would be just watch. I'm just pointing it out."
Ho-Sang has no goals and four assists in nine AHL games this season.