There have been many outstanding performances by Wild players this season, and as a result, many familiar names have been mentioned as contenders while the talk of individual NHL Awards heats up.
Multiple Wild players have such strong cases for various awards that the organization created infographics to tout their stats: Ryan Suter for the Norris Trophy, Jonas Brodin for the Calder Trophy and Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise for the Selke Trophy.
But there is one noteworthy name missing from this list: Josh Harding and his nomination for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy by the Minnesota chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA).
It’s not that Hards – as he’s affectionately known around the locker room – doesn’t warrant a pretty graphic to state his case. In fact, he may be the most-qualified candidate for any NHL Award this season.
But unlike Suter, Brodin, Koivu and Parise, Harding is nominated for an award that is less about on-ice performance and more about off-ice perseverance. And how can you possibly capture Harding’s battle with multiple sclerosis this season in a clever graphic?
Do you include a “Shock Meter” for the surprise, uncertainty and concern Josh, his family and his supporters felt after he was diagnosed this past summer?
How are you supposed to capture the selflessness he showed by going public with his battle before the season to ensure it wouldn’t become a distraction to the Wild’s success?
Do you list microphones for each time Harding has been asked if he’s concerned for his career, or worse, his life?
How can you measure the sighs of relief and smiles that surrounded his 24-save shutout victory in his first start of the season?
Do you calculate sweat drops for the countless hours he spent working to get back in game-shape after side effects of his MS medication caused him to miss 33 games?
How do you properly showcase the effect his return to the Wild roster had on his teammates?
Do you position a massive smiley face to portray the positive spirit he has shown through the undoubtedly tough battle?
The answer, of course, is that there’s no way to portray Harding’s perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey and wrap it up in a graphically-created bow.
Statistics will help the PHWA’s members determine this year’s Norris, Calder and Selke Trophies. The Masterton is all about heart, and there's no way a graphic can showcase the size of Harding's.