Dec 25, 2013, 6:00 PM EDT
In November of last year, Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a chronic disease that can disable the central nervous system of the body causing mild symptoms like numbness in the extremities or severe ones such as paralysis or loss of vision.
Despite being handed such a devastating diagnosis at a young age, the 29-year-old Harding is fighting through it, inspiring sports fans and fellow sufferers of the disease at the same time.
In his first start following his diagnosis, he shut out the Dallas Stars. While he suffered a pair of setbacks while undergoing treatment, including a stint that kept him out for nearly three months, he returned in late April.
His return came just in time to start in the playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks in place of injured starter Niklas Backstrom. The Wild lost in five games to the ‘Hawks, but Harding built off that experience in a big way.
And he didn’t stop there; his play to start the current season has people thinking he could win a different award: the Vezina Trophy.
With Backstrom again dealing with injuries to start the 2013-14 campaign, Harding seized his opportunity to play and has dazzled throughout the year, going 18-5-3 with a league-leading 1.55 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage.
The Wild are challenging for a playoff spot in the incredibly difficult Western Conference and have Harding to thank for a lot of their success.
Dealing with MS has its pitfalls, however, because it never goes away. He was put on injured reserve on Dec. 19 to undergo a change in treatment of the disease. Wild GM Chuck Fletcher says it’s not a major situation, but it’s a reason to be concerned nonetheless.
Dealing with an incurable disease like MS is difficult regardless of a person’s situation. Watching Harding excel through it all has been incredible to witness.
- Julien thinks diving crackdown is ‘step in the right direction’ 32
- Holland doesn’t see Babcock deal by start of season 9
- Risk Factors: Pittsburgh Penguins edition 4
- PHT Morning Skate: Flyers bringing back Ice Girls 15
- Dillon’s agent: Discussions with Stars are ‘frustrating and disappointing’ 7
- NHL shoots down Tkachev’s contract with Edmonton 9
- NHL Board of Governors approves Islanders sale 6
- Johansen, Blue Jackets talks haven’t just resumed, they’re ‘very polite’ 15
- Speedy recovery: Giroux (lower body) to play vs. Rangers tonight 12
- Risk Factors: Boston Bruins edition 13
- Players pushed for coaching fines because they were ‘encouraged’ to dive (34)
- Julien thinks diving crackdown is ‘step in the right direction’ (33)
- Reinhart admits frustration; time running out to make Sabres? (25)
- Canucks waive Markstrom as Shinkaruk, Jensen continue to impress (23)
- Filip Forsberg has scored two thirds of the Preds’ preseason goals (21)