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NHL to permanently retire No. 66

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New York Islanders forward Joshua Ho-Sang will receive an honor no NHL rookie ever has when the league permanently retires his jersey number later this month.

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No NHL player will ever again be able to wear Ho-Sang’s number 66, a move the league says is in recognition of the 21-year-old’s unique journey to the pros and all of the positives he represents for the sport.

“Josh is a fine young man, and an exciting, talented player,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement announcing the tribute. “He’s the kind of athlete all young hockey players should want to emulate and we feel that by retiring his No. 66 jersey across our great league, we will be spotlighting his amazing story and inspiring future generations of NHL talent for years to come.

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“I can’t think of a better reason to retire No. 66 forever than Josh Ho-Sang.”

The number will be taken out of commission league-wide on March 24th of this season, with a special ceremony taking place in Pittsburgh before a game between Ho-Sang’s Islanders and the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins.

Ho-Sang was recalled from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the AHL by the Islanders on February 28th and he has played two games for the club, which selected him 28th overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Although he hasn’t found himself on the score sheet yet, his extraordinary personality and effect on the game is already noticeable across the NHL.

“There’s truly never been a player with this combination of talent and charisma before,” Bettman said. “I have no doubt that Josh Ho-Sang will be the greatest player to ever wear 66 and that his name will eventually become synonymous with the number.”

Six players in NHL history have worn 66, including Ho-Sang, Calgary defenseman T.J. Brodie, former Philadelphia Flyer Yanick Dupre and legendary 90’s tough guy Gino Odjick in his first season with the Vancouver Canucks. The number is so rare that Ho-Sang’s usage of it has caused a stir among hockey fans and writers, who have wondered aloud whether he should even be allowed to wear it or not.

In 2000, the NHL permanently retired Wayne Gretzky’s No. 99 following “The Great One’s” final season. Now, just a few games into his NHL career, Ho-Sang will be on the same level with the league’s all-time greatest player.

“It’s a testament to Josh’s incredible story that he can receive this type of honor from the NHL,” Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. “He’s a Super kid and we’re thrilled he’s a New York Islander.

“It’s only a matter of time before every team also has a statue of him in front of their arena.”

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