Josh Harding is the man, athlete of 2013


Josh Harding

LeBron James won another NBA title. Peyton Manning set the passing touchdown record. Josh Harding has gone from obscurity to vying for a spot on Team Canada’s hockey team in the Winter Olympics. Harding is also battling multiple sclerosis.

M.S. is the damage of insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Side effects of the disease range from blurred vision to psychiatric instability. The disease is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, and is more common in women. Harding became aware of his situation at the end of 2012.

The goaltender for the Minnesota Wild has played in 27 games this season, sporting an 18-5-3 win-loss record with a 1.51 goals against average and .939 save percentage. He leads the league in the latter two categories and is tied for fourth in wins. Harding has also missed time in December while adjusting to a change in his medication for M.S.

During the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, Minnesota faced the eventual champion Chicago Blackhawks. Prior to game one in Chicago, Wild starting goalie Niklas Backstrom was hurt in pregame warm-ups. Backstrom was forced to start with limited time to get ready before puck drop, but managed to backstop the Wild to a 2-1 overtime loss. Harding would start each of the five games the Wild played in, earning the respect of everyone involved and the hockey world.

All too often players get overlooked because of a lack of celebrity or the media’s choice to care about a sport. Hockey is a forgotten sport in America until mid-April every year. For the remainder of the 2013-14 NHL season, and hopefully for the 2014 Winter Olympics, do yourself a favor and tune in to any game Josh Harding is apart of. He may not be finishing plays with a flashy dunk or meticulously carving up defenses on the gridiron, but when Harding is donning the Wild and potentially the Canadian sweater, he is battling against the opponent on the ice and another inside of him.

He is doing so successfully.

 

Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeffrotull44 for more sports and entertainment ramblings. If you play fantasy sports, check out The Fantasy Fix, where Jeff covers your add/drop/watch needs during baseball and hockey season, and does weekly podcasts, as well.

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