Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding won the Bill Masterton Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Harding revealed last November that he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an incurable auto-immune disease where the body randomly attacks the protective lining of nerves throughout the body. It causes fatigue, blurred vision and balance issues, but Harding managed to play five games during the regular season and made 24 saves in a 1-0 shutout of Dallas in his first start of the shortened campaign.
The award is based on the regular season, but Harding was forced into action in the playoffs after Niklas Backstrom was hurt during pregame warmups prior to Game 1 of the first-round series against Chicago. He wound up playing in each of the five games as the Wild were eliminated by the Blackhawks.
"I'm honored to be named this year's recipient of the Masterton Trophy and I thank the PHWA for selecting me," said Harding. "It's a compliment to be a finalist alongside Sidney Crosby and Adam McQuaid and I'd like to recognize their inspiring seasons. I'm very fortunate to have the support of so many great people who have helped me through the ups and downs of multiple sclerosis, starting with my friends, family and doctors. I thank my teammates and the entire Wild organization for believing in me and for their ongoing support. I also want to thank those across the NHL, NHLPA and the MS community who reached out with their encouragement during a challenging year. I'm incredibly grateful for this honor."
Harding is the first Wild player to win the Masterton Trophy.
Also nominated for the award were Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who missed most of the last two seasons recovering from the effects of a concussion and broke his jaw at the end of March, and Adam McQuaid of the Boston Bruins, who underwent a pair of surgical procedures in September after being diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which was causing blood clots to form.