Hey, everyone. It’s Dan Mount again and I’m here with the Monday NHL headlines. Today we’ll take a look at the stellar play of Josh Harding from the Minnesota Wild. Also, don’t forget that I’m doing Movember to raise awareness for men’s health issues. You can visit my page if you want to donate. Any amount you give is appreciated. Please leave comments below, or you can follow me on Twitter @DanMountSpots.
Around this time last year, it was uncertain on whether Josh Harding ever be the same or even play again. The goalie was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in October of last year. (He revealed his diagnosis to the public in late November of 2012 when hockey writer Michael Russo broke the story.) Harding said that he just didn’t feel right and the initial trouble was found after workouts in September of last year during the lockout. According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Harding first talked to the team doctors when he had other symptoms like dizziness, trouble seeing and leg numbness.
Many wondered whether Harding would be able to take the grind of being the number one goalie on a team with big expectations. One of the harder things to deal with when fighting the disease is fatigue, and being an NHL goalie is a tiring business. (One can also lose their vision and have paralysis as well from the disease.) Harding only played in only 10 games last season as he was trying to deal with the disease.
However, he was thrust into the limelight after the Wild’s number one goalie last season Niklas Backstrom got injured in warmups prior to game one of the team’s opening round playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks. Harding hadn’t started that much during the season, but had to be the top goalie despite being not playing that much and also having to deal with the red-hot Blackhawks. Harding didn't back down, but the Hawks were too much.
There were questions on whether the team had a place for Harding as Backstrom earned the number one job and the team also has a promising young goalie in Darcy Kuemper waiting in the wings. However, Harding didn’t seem too bothered by the situation as he started his own charity called Harding's Hope. One could forgive Harding if hockey wasn’t the first thing that was on his mind, but he didn’t use that as an excuse. He told Michael Russo that he wanted to do more than just survive with the ailment.
"You can let it get you down for a bit, but you've got to move past it. I know what my overall goal is to be, and that's a No. 1 goalie of the Minnesota Wild and to win a Stanley Cup here. It would make me happy to overcome this. Not just overcome this, but to really succeed with it,"
He also said
"I don't want people treating me different, I don't want people feeling bad for me, I don't want people moping around. I want this to be a story where when we look back, it was a happy story."
That happy story has been happening this year as Harding is putting up some great statistics including a 12-2-2 record, 1.25 goals against average and save percentage of 94.6%. Harding has been a big part of the Wild’s strong home record as he is 10-0-0 after they beat the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 Sunday night. He’s gotten most of the goaltending work as Backstrom has suffered various injuries, including a concussion after being hurt by Toronto’s Nazem Kadri.
Many are saying that Harding is the best story going in the National Hockey League today and that his success has pushed talk about MS to the forefront. Harding said he would love to just focus on hockey, but it’s hard not to feel good about someone who is playing well despite being handed some tough news. He’s already won the Bill Masterton Trophy for the player who exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.” However, if he continues to play this well, he might be in the conversation for the Vezina Trophy for best goalie.
It’s always nice to see a good story come out of the world sports in a world that is filled with crime, cheating and bad attitudes. Harding has already succeeded beyond a lot of people’s wildest dreams.
Dan Mount is an NHL and college football writer for TJRSports.com. He is based out of Watertown, NY.