When the New York Islanders held a mini-camp for their prospects in June, forward Joshua Ho-Sang knew he wouldn't be able to dodge questions from the media about what happened last fall.
Perhaps that's why he didn't wait for reporters to ask. He brought it up himself.
Ho-Sang, New York's first-round pick (No. 28) in the 2014 NHL Draft, overslept on the first day of training camp last September and immediately was returned to Niagara of the Ontario Hockey League by Islanders general manager Garth Snow. Ho-Sang had another solid season at the junior level (82 points in 66 regular-season games and 26 points in 17 playoff games) but admitted he still hasn't gotten over a gaffe that may have cost him a chance to at least start the 2015-16 season with the Islanders.
"It's tough. I think about it every day," Ho-Sang said. "In a lot of ways, it helped me, and in a lot ways, it was hard. It's part of the reason why I grew up a little more and have come a long way from my mistakes.
"For me, it's just about moving forward. I'm really excited to start the next chapter of my hockey career."
With his junior career over, Ho-Sang is set to turn pro and likely will play this season with Bridgeport of the American Hockey League. He's looking forward to being one step closer to achieving his dream of playing in the NHL.
"It's really exciting," Ho-Sang said. "To be able to start the next chapter in anything, it's really a big moment. For me to be able to step up and play with some of the bigger boys and some guys that I've known and played against, it's really exciting."
The Islanders obviously weren't happy with Ho-Sang at the time of the incident, but they are pleased with the way he has conducted himself since.
"He's focused in," Islanders director of player development Eric Cairns told NHL.com. "He took some steps this year towards being a more reliable guy off the ice, as well as on the ice. He's a mature guy, but he also needs to keep on learning the steps to do the right things at all time, which is normal for a lot of different young men. It's not the first time anything like that has happened, it's not going to be the last. But he seems to be in as good a place as I've ever seen him."
The Islanders took a risk two years ago when they traded up at the draft to select Ho-Sang, a player with remarkable skill but a reputation for being a "me-first" player (Ho-Sang continued to try and put that reputation to bed with 63 assists last season). Was it difficult for Islanders brass to give Ho-Sang a second chance after what happened last September?
"No. Not at all," Cairns said. "We believe in the young man and enjoy talking to him and obviously watching him play. He's a great player. It was not hard at all. Young men make different mistakes and that's OK, just as long as you learn from them."
Ho-Sang swears he has.
"If you're not growing, you're not living," he said.
One of Ho-Sang's main objectives when the Islanders open training camp this fall is to try and regain any respect he may have lost from members of the NHL roster when he failed to show up on time for the first on-ice session of the season.
"It's an opportunity to start fresh," Ho-Sang said. "I know I still have a lot to prove to the NHL guys. I want them to respect me and know that I'm not there to waste their time. I think that's the biggest thing.
"I'm sure I left a bitter taste in some people's mouths, especially the fans. I want to show them I'm here and I'm committed."