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Wild goalie Harding makes inspirational season debut

Monday, 01.21.2013 / 10:36 AM / NHL Insider

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Wild goalie Harding makes inspirational season debut
Josh Harding's seventh career shutout, a 1-0 win over the Stars, also came in his first start since he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Josh Harding made 24 saves as the Minnesota Wild won their second straight to start the season with a 1-0 victory against the Dallas Stars on Sunday night.

The 28-year-old’s seventh career shutout also came in his first start since he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November.

"It's been a tough couple months here," Harding said to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "This made it all worth it. I can't thank the team enough for having my back."

Harding, who signed a three-year, $5.7 million contract during the summer to remain with the only team for which he’s played, called Sunday night's game a "tryout." Harding has been a member of the Wild organization for nearly 11 years, which made him comfortable disclosing the illness to teammates and management.

Josh Harding
Josh Harding
Goalie - MIN
RECORD: 1-0-0
GAA: 0.00 | SVP: 1.000
"It's one of the reasons I signed back here,” Harding said. "This is a family. I can't say enough about each and every guy in here. They haven't treated me differently, and I didn't expect them to."

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). It usually diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 40 and can cause muscle spasms, trouble with balance and numbness in areas of the body.

There is no cure, but Harding has worked with team doctor Dan Peterson and neurologist Jonathan Calkwood of the Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology, and the aggressive treatments have paid off.

"Words can't describe what they've done for me," Harding said. "I'm not kidding, I don't think I'd be here without those two guys. They've kind of saved me, and they made me believe."

When Wild coach Mike Yeo tabs him for another start later in the season, Harding will be ready for yet another tryout to show he can still play the game.

"I can't predict the future," Harding said. "I can only control what goes on day to day. And I'm doing everything in my power to make sure I'm ready to go. And it was just a great feeling coming out here and backstopping the team to a win.

"I can't say enough and I can't thank them enough for how good the team has been from the top down. I'm not just talking about the players, I'm talking about management, I'm talking about everybody. It's one of the reasons I signed back here. This is a family and I can't say enough about each and every guy in here."

Quote of the Day

We want to make sure that whoever makes our team really makes our team by earning it and not putting them in situations where they get preference because of their status as a first-round pick or whatever it might be. That's not going to happen. Everybody has to earn their way on our team.

— Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen on the team's prospects at development camp