The Bill Masterton Award is named in honor of Bill Masterton, the only player who died as a direct result of an in-game hockey injury. Since his death, the NHL has given this award to the player who most exemplifies the qualities of perseverance and dedication to hockey.
It should shock literally no one that Josh Harding was nominated by the Minnesota Chapter of the Pro Writers Hockey Association to be Minnesota's nominee for the award.
Since announcing his diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, Harding has done nothing but persevere. He won the Masterton Award last season, playing in 4 games before the need to find adjustments to his treatment forced him to step away for almost three months. He returned in late April, appearing in all 5 playoff games, and getting credit for the Wild's first playoff win since 2008.
This season, Harding looked like he was going to pull off a miracle. He quickly displaced Niklas Backstrom as the starting goaltender, and through the end of the New Year, he was the obvious choice for the Wild's MVP, and a strong contender for the Vezina Trophy, going 18-7-3 through 29 games with a .933 Save Percentage and 3 Shutouts.
Unfortunately, this season has yet to provide Harding with a happy ending, as he has been out since the New Year, only recently returning to practice. While making a playoff return is possible, it's unknown when or if that may happen.
It would be hard to imagine Harding not winning the Masterton Award for the second consecutive season, as his fantastic on-ice play is notable in addition to the perseverance he has displayed to get on the ice and perform at a high level.
Harding has a charity, Harding's Hope, which aims "to raise awareness of MS and raise funds to support people living with MS." You can find it HERE.