The Minnesota Wild are not known for a long history success. In their fourteen years in existence, they have made six playoff appearances, including one in each of the last three seasons. Despite these recent playoff berths, they have entered as a wild card in two of the last three seasons.
Usually, the heart and soul of a team is their best player, but with Minnesota that is not the case. With Minnesota, the heart and soul is goalie Josh Harding. Harding’s story is in interesting one, and one that appears to be ending before it really ever got a chance to start. Recently, news has surfaced that Harding may be preparing to announce his retirement according to reports by Yahoo! Sports and NHL.com
Josh Harding began his career in 2002 when the Minnesota Wild selected him 38th overall in the draft. He didn’t make his debut until 2005 and didn’t get much playing time until 2007.
Harding solidified himself as the Wild’s backup goalie and did a pretty good job. He posted 13 wins in his first season playing 30 or more games.
However, that is not what’s impressive about Josh Harding. What’s impressive about Josh Harding is his perseverance and ability to overcome adversity. In 2012, Harding was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, a debilitating disease which damages the ability of the nervous system to communicate and damages the cells of the spinal cord.
Despite the pain involved with the disease and despite the fact that there is no cure, Harding persevered through it and managed to play in five games during the 2012-13 season, going 1-1 with an .863 SV% and a 3.24 GAA. He also went 1-4 in that year’s playoffs with a .911 SV% and a 2.94 GAA. Don’t let the numbers fool you. Even the fact that Harding played at all is remarkable. After this season, he was awarded the Masterton Trophy, awarded to the player who best exemplifies perseverance and sportsmanship.
More impressive than his 2012 campaign, was his last NHL season. In 2013-14, he went 18-7-3 over 29 games and led the NHL in SV% at .933 and GAA at 1.65. Complications from his MS medication meant that his last NHL game was played on December 31, 2013 though.
Harding’s impending retirement does not come as tremendous surprise but it will be felt throughout the league, as he served as an ambassador for perseverance, not giving up, and defying the odds. His actions are tremendously inspirational and he should serve as a role model for many, due to the sheer magnitude of his actions, both on and off the ice.
Josh Harding may not have dominated the NHL by filling the stat sheet, but he dominated the league with his story, and it’s one that shouldn’t be forgotten.