Today, the NHL announced half their award winners for this season, and one of them was the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. The Masterton Trophy is awarded to "the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies and qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey." To no one's surprise, Wild goaltender Josh Harding was the announced winner of the award, after revealing he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis back in November.
Harding edged out finalists Sidney Crosby of Pittsburgh and Adam McQuaid of Boston for the award.
This past season, Harding played four games early on in the season, before missing the next two and a half months while dealing with his condition. He returned, and found himself as the team's starting goaltender for all five games of the playoffs, as Niklas Backstrom went down with injury. Harding (.911 save percentage, 2.94 GAA) fared admirably in the playoffs, but the Wild were dispatched quickly by the eventual Western Conference Champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Harding's already well-known story received even more national attention (see tweet below), when he was suddenly called upon to take the net for the Wild's postseason. So his winning the award today is no surprise to just about anyone, around the game. Josh has been very adamant about carrying on his NHL career, and it showed this year, when he returned in late April. No one wanted to play more badly than he did.
NHL playoffs! Yes !!! Josh Harding... Great story— Michael J. Fox (@realmikefox) May 1, 2013
Harding becomes the 46th player to win the award. Some notable players to have previously won the Masterton include: Bobby Clarke, Mario Lemieux, Cam Neely, Saku Koivu, Steve Yzerman, Teemu Selanne, and Phil Kessel.
Congratulations to Josh Harding on winning the Masterton Trophy!