GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding earned the respect of his teammates and fans when he showed determination and dedication to his team even after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
On Friday, the national recognition came in the form of the National Hockey League's Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, an award that goes annually to the player that best displays perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication.
"It's an honor to be the recipient," said Harding in an interview with NHL.com. "So, excited here."
Multiple sclerosis involves an immune system attack against the central nervous system. But the diagnosis was not something that Harding was going to let stop him from continuing his dream.
"All year was a battle, a lot of ups and downs," Harding said in the NHL.com interview. "I couldn't thank the people (enough) that have supported me and been on my team since I got diagnosed."
Harding was set to backup Niklas Backstrom in the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Chicago Blackhawks, but after Backstrom got hurt in the pregame of Game 1, Harding was thrust into action.
Harding performed admirably in the playoffs, earning his first career playoff win in team's sole win over the Blackhawks. He posted a .911 save percentage and 2.94 goals-against average in the series.
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