MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding won a major NHL Award Friday – the Masterton Trophy. It’s a direct result of the way he’s approached his battle with multiple sclerosis (MS), and the way he’s inspired others as a result.
When Harding was told he had MS last fall, one of the hardest parts was telling other people.
“It was tough. I didn’t know how to do it, I didn’t know how everybody would kind of view me after that. But I’m glad that I did,” Harding said.
Harding has now become a symbol of hope, or as the NHL’s Masterton Trophy describes it, a symbol of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
“I just won an NHL award, something that I never thought I’d do in my life ever. And it happened with MS. I played five playoff games. I didn’t know if I’d ever play a playoff game. That came with MS. I want people to believe that goals are possible,” he said. “Just because you get a label of a disease doesn’t mean that you’re not gonna complete your goals or if you want it, you’ll go get it. And that’s what I hope people take out of this.”
Harding just had his best season as a pro hockey player. This is an incredible feat considering what he went through during it. He played in only five regular season games as he battled the disease and searched for the right mix of medications.
“There were some ups and downs, and I think some days it would’ve been easy to kind of throw in the towel. But I’ve been playing hockey since I was 4. I’m not going to let something come in the way of me not going out there to play,” he said.
And now he’s taking that same mentality to fighting the disease off the ice. He just launched a new charity, Harding’s Hope, to raise awareness about MS, and money for those fighting it.
“This is only the beginning of the story, and that’s the best part of this whole journey. This is only the beginning. I’m not going to let this story end right now,” Harding said. “I wouldn’t change anything for the world. It (brought) awareness for MS, and with today’s award I think it’s even going to bring that much more.”