When Josh Harding went to Mike Russo of the Star Tribune to announce to the world he had multiple sclerosis, he had to know that his world was about to change. Only one other player in NHL history has played with MS, and that was only a very short stint in one game. Harding wanted to return to his career as though nothing had changed. That was not to be.
After playing in four games, with three starts, Harding has not played since February 7th as he and his doctors worked to find the right medical regime to treat the MS. Harding was man enough to tell Mike Yeo and Chuck Fletcher that he was not 100% and could not play. The Wild called up their prospects and marched forward. Harding went about his mission a man with 1000 friends and yet facing the challenge all by himself.
On Monday, Harding was activated from the injured reserve list and backed up Niklas Backstrom in the game against the LA Kings. The comeback wa complete, and Harding was back where he feels most comfortable, with his team.
Tonight, the Minnesota Chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association honored Harding's efforts with a nomination for the Bill Masterton Memorial award, given to the "National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey."
This one is an absolute no brainer for the rest pf the PHWA. After the embarrassment the PHWA has made this award, it would be nice to see it given to a guy who actually deserves it for once.
Harding has battled something outside the confines of hockey that could still very well cost him his career. Yet, he pushed himself to stay in shape and fought through something only one other player in NHL history has ever done to get back to his job. If that doesn't define perseverance and dedication to hockey, I don't know what does.
Congrats, Josh. Well deserved.