Minneapolis, MN, United States (4E Sports) – Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding plans to continue his playing career despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
“I don’t look at this like I’ve got to take a new path,” said Harding, who recently signed a three-year, $5.7 million contract recently. “This is a little bump in the road. I’ve had lots in life.”
“I had a couple days where I felt bad for myself, but no more,” Harding told the Star Tribune. “There are things in life that happen. Sometimes you can’t explain it. You deal with it.”
The 28-year-old Harding said he wants to continue playing to create awareness and be an example for those suffering with multiple sclerosis
“Even if it changes one person’s life to show that I’m not letting this come between me and my goals, that would be awesome,” said Harding, who plans to create a foundation that will further create awareness regarding the disease.
Multiple sclerosis is an incurable autoimmune disease in which the body randomly attacks and eats away the protective lining of his nerves and causes them to scar. It causes problems with balance, fatigue and blurred vision.
In the United States, there are 25,000 new cases diagnosed every year.
Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said Harding’s competitive fire will help him in this new battle.
“Josh’s competitive fire has led him to a successful career in the NHL and we know he will approach this new battle in the same manner,” Fletcher said.
Harding said the disease started with just a tweak in the neck that evolved into dizziness, seeing black spots and numbness in his right leg.
“I just knew that something wasn’t right,” Harding said. “Honestly, I hadn’t felt normal for a bit.”
Harding went for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging test on his neck last Sept. 27. After noticing an abnormality, Wild doctor Dan Peterson summoned Harding back to his Edina clinic for an MRI of his brain.
Then, Peterson discovered lesions and called Harding back to his office that night.
“I told him I thought it was MS, and he wasn’t like, ‘Woe is me,’” Peterson said. “He’s like, ‘What do we do? Tell me how to go forward.’”
Meanwhile, Harding is optimistic that the NHL lockout will end in time to have a shortened season.
“I’m a team-first guy,” Harding said. “If we play a 41- or 60-game season, you lose seven in a row, you’re not going to catch up. Let the distraction be now rather than when we’re on a four-game road trip, we need to win and all of a sudden it leaks out.”