has yearned for the chance to be a number one goaltender in the National Hockey League. The problem for him is that there are only 30 organizations have those positions, and not many are looking to hire.
Harding has everything in his power, including the production of some fine numbers two seasons ago, with a 2.21 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. Of course, that came during the same year that Niklas Backstrom
was a Vezina trophy finalist.
Harding then struggled to find a consistent rhythm last year, although he turned in some of the best performances of his career - a shutout in Colorado, a heroic effort in a loss to Washington, a brilliant performance to beat Buffalo). He went 9-12-0 with a 3.05 goals against average, a .905 save percentage and one shutout in 25 matches with Minnesota in 2009-10.
The 26-year-old has never had much luck in his NHL career, but he hopes this upcoming season will change all that. And it will more than likely happen with him in a Wild uniform after he signed a one-year contract with the club today, and he's thrilled about that.
"I'm very excited, actually," said Harding when asked his emotions about the contract. "I'm coming back to the organization I've been with all my life and I can't wait to get back at it. Hopefully our team can keep getting better."
Harding has certainly heard rumors about trades both before, during and after last season. He's determined not to focus on any of it.
"I hear it a lot, but I try to keep my ears and eyes out of that," he said. "Whatever happens, happens. It's not my decision, but I'm proud to be a Minnesota Wild again."
Harding underwent surgery following the season for his hip, which bothered him several times throughout the year. Who can forget the spectacular diving snare against Edmonton that preserved a win, but put Harding on the shelf? Harding says it won't be a problem next season.
"I feel better than I ever have," he said. "I've been working hard every day and so far, no setbacks. I'm ready to get back out there and do my thing again."