When Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, his future in the National Hockey League was probably the least of his worries. MS can be a crippling disease, causing sufferers to lose motor skills and vision, to name a few symptoms. As an NHL netminder, becoming afflicted with such a terrible neurological disorder would make playing the game at the highest level nearly impossible. But the human resolve is powerful, something Harding is proving to the world.
The Wild are performing strongly this season, and Harding is a big reason why. The ambidexstrous netminder is playing exceptional hockey despite his disorder. Harding is (9-2) this season – the proud owner of a winning record that places him third in the entire NHL for victories earned. His 1.22 GAA ranks him in elite company with Tuukka Rask as the only goalies with more than 10 games played to possess a goals against average below 2.00. And Harding’s save percentage, an awe inspiring 0.947, sees him tops amongst NHL netminders with more than 6 games played. Harding has suited up for 14. Goalie stats courtesy of NHL.com.
Harding is not only persevering as an NHL player with MS, he’s excelling. The Wild netminder is having a Vezina type season. And what a story it would be if he can maintain the high quality of play that has allowed him to lead his club with a near flawless record.
Last season, Harding won the Bill Masterton award for best exemplifying the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. A Vezina trophy would look mighty fine on his trophy mantel.
Harding’s accomplishments are special, awe inspiring, and motivational. His performance, and will to fight through a serious disease are incredibly commendable. As the season progresses, Harding and his Wild will continue to fight for a spot in the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. With Harding playing so well, they will get there and perform admirably. Go Harding!
Harding has been very modest throughout all his early season success. He recently told Yahoo! Sports:
“I think the team’s helped me out a lot. I don’t think it has much to do with me at all. I’m just trying to come out here, give the team a chance to win every night. You just have to be solid and make the timely save.”