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PHT’s Top 13 of ’13: Harding thrives in face of adversity

Dec 25, 2013, 6:00 PM EDT

Josh Harding Getty Images

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.

Overcoming MS to play at all helped earn Harding the 2013 Masterton Trophy for perseverance. He followed that up with the creation of a charity, Harding’s Hope, to help those with the disease.

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.

  1. 950003cups - Dec 25, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    He’s an amazing man!

  2. logicalcomment - Dec 25, 2013 at 8:39 PM

    i dont get why ppl never mentioned him for sochi. i hear mike smith wtf ?? i was sure he was american cuz never heard his name

    • joey4id - Dec 26, 2013 at 8:41 AM

      Agreed. Him and Fleury need to be considered along with Luongo, Price and Smith.

  3. killerpgh - Dec 25, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    Other than his team playing against your favorite team in a playoff series I don’t see how anyone can root against him.

  4. pavelfitzgerald - Dec 25, 2013 at 11:16 PM

    Props to PHT to making this a story when many media outlets choose to ignore it. It’s great to hear about a positive story for a change instead of the usual negative storylines

  5. blomfeld - Dec 26, 2013 at 12:39 AM

    GOD SPEED COMRADE HARDING … WE’RE HERE AT YOUR SIDE FRIEND !

    God bless Josh Harding and may he be granted the strength to prevail over his challenges … and may it be that this ‘indigenous’ franchise soon comes to find the glory which it is deserving of … after all, they’re pretty good eh, or ‘don’t ya know’ ? :)

    GO HARDING !!! … GO THE WILD OF MINNESOTA !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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