Did Josh Ho-Sang deserve 15 games for this collision?

Ryan Kennedy
Ho-sang-Bell

Windsor Spitfires right winger Josh Ho-Sang is a potential first-round draft pick with boatloads of skill. But an incident in his final game of the season has the junior in major trouble.

Ho-Sang made contact with London’s Zach Bell in Game 4 of a playoff sweep by the Knights, causing the defenseman to crash into the boards. Bell broke his leg on the play, most likely ending the 21-year-old’s Ontario League career. Ho-Sang was given a two-minute holding penalty, but the OHL reviewed the incident and handed him a 15-game suspension, to be served at the beginning of next season. Was it warranted? Here’s the play in question:

According to the Windsor Star, the league would not have come down so hard on Ho-Sang if Bell had not been injured. Which brings up two competing arguments: Ho-Sang is responsible for his actions, no matter how banal the intent may have been, or the league overreacted to an unfortunate accident that is almost inevitable in a game as fast and physical as hockey.

Right now it’s a moot point for Ho-Sang, who takes another hit to his character in public. It was shocking when the talented winger was left off Team Canada’s under-18 roster last week, but he was also snubbed for the summer team that went on to win gold at the Ivan Hlinka tournament.

Ho-Sang may be the most divisive player in this year’s draft class. His offensive skill set is unquestioned, but some have worried about his judgement on the ice. For what it’s worth, NHL scouts that I have talked to seem very excited about the youngster and didn’t seem concerned about his attitude. Ho-Sang had a make-or-break moment this season when Windsor traded away franchise gem Kerby Rychel and the winger responded by upping his game and playing in important situations.

Now NHL teams will have to factor in the loss of 15 games to Ho-Sang’s development curve next season. Is it fair to Ho-Sang? Was it fair to Bell for his OHL career to end that way? It’s a tough call to be sure.