A report in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune today indicates that Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding is expected to announce his retirement shortly. His contract with the wild expires at the end of June, and he is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. He is 30 years old, and will turn 31 in June.
“I wouldn’t want to speak for him, but he has bigger issues than just hockey,” Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher told the Tribune.
Harding announced that he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November 2012. He played only 5 regular season games during that 2012-13 season, following his announcement, but was in goal for game 1 of the Wild’s first round loss to the Chicago Blackhawks after an injury to Niklas Backstrom. At the 2013 NHL Awards, Harding brought home the Masterton trophy.
He started strong in 2013, with a 18-7-3 record and a 1.65 goals-against average, .933 save percentage and three shutouts before a change in medication caused complications. He last played in the NHL on December 31, 2013. He looked to be an all-star and a Vezina Trophy contender at the time.
Harding hoped to come back and play in the 2014-15 season. However he had a training camp injury where he suffered a broken foot after kicking a wall during an argument with a teammate. After he recovered, Harding was sent to the AHL to get in shape for the season but played only two games. During the second game he had to be pulled due to dehydration related to his MS.
Josh Harding finishes with a 60-59-11 record, with a 2.45 GAA, .918 save percentage and 10 shutouts in 151 NHL games (124 starts) for the Wild in his career. Harding was the Wild’s second round pick, 38th overall, in the 2002 NHL Entry draft. He has spent his entire career with the Minnesota organization.
Josh Harding has started a charity, Hardings Hope, with the proceeds going towards finding a cure for the disease.