Found January 21, 2013 on
Fox Sports North:
ST. PAUL, Minn. Josh Harding said he couldn't sleep well Saturday night knowing he would be in net Sunday for the Minnesota Wild in the second game of a back-to-back to open the season.
Harding has played 118 games in the NHL. Nervousness like Harding was experiencing shouldn't come from a seven-year veteran.
Sunday wasn't just any start for Harding. Sunday was his first time back as Minnesota's starting goaltender since he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last summer. Earning his seventh career shutout with 24 saves in a 1-0 win against the Dallas Stars was secondary to the triumph of being back on the ice.
"It feels good right now," Harding said. "It was a long-time coming here. It's been a tough couple months here and this made it all worth it. I can't think the team enough for having my back. They made some great plays, played great out there and made my job a lot easier."
Harding wasn't sure if he would be back in this position when doctors told him he had MS following a series of tests because he was feeling dizzy. The disease, which attacks the body's immune system and specifically the lining of the nerves, can affect balance, vision and fatigue. Harding didn't know what the future held, but after signing a three-year, 5.7 million contract he wanted to keep playing.
"When you get told about it, there are some doubts," Harding said. "I'd be completely lying to you if I didn't say that. The way that doctor (Jonathan) Calkwood and doctor (Dan) Peterson have helped me along, words can't describe what they've done to me. I'm not kidding I don't think I'd be here without those two guys.
"They've kind of saved me and they made me believe and then it also goes back to the team and the management, they helped me believe in myself and it's just a really exciting time for myself."
Harding felt he had to prove to Minnesota that he could be relied on. The Wild stuck with him. The perseverance of Harding and the support of his teammates, coaching staff and front office paid off Sunday. Zach Parise scored his first goal as a member of the Wild, and Harding was strong in net against Dallas, which scored four goals in its season-opener on Saturday.
Harding made two critical saves in the waning minutes to keep his shutout intact.
"We're very happy for him," Minnesota coach Mike Yeo said. "This is something most of us cannot understand, what he's going through and what he's been through lately. Again, he's just had an amazing attitude about this and we're just really happy for him."
In the shortened, condensed season, the Wild will need Harding; the 1B option in goal to Minnesota starter Niklas Backstrom's 1A. With many back-to-backs and an intensive road schedule, Harding will be relied on as heavily as he ever has as Backstrom's backup. Harding played a career-high 34 games last season.
Harding said he appreciates the support he's received from the organization. The support was never in question as far as Yeo is concerned. The coach didn't question Harding's ability to compete.
"He's a guy that gives his all every day," Yeo said. "His attitude has been unbelievable. I've got no concerns. We owe it to him to have this opportunity. He's earned it. We didn't give anything to him. He earned it."
Many of Harding's teammates didn't have concerns either. During the lockout, Parise was one of the many players that had skated with Harding in impromptu practices around town. Harding's performance Sunday didn't surprise Parise.
"I was curious, but I wasn't nervous for him," Parise said. "He's been playing great. So I can't say I'm surprised with how well he played. He's been looking good for a while."
There are many more games, hopefully, to go for Harding, but Sunday proved he's able to help the Wild and was a good first step after a tough few months.
"I can't predict the future," Harding said. "I can only control what goes on day to day and I'm doing everything in my power to make sure that I'm ready to go and it was just a great feeling coming out here and backstopping the team to a win."
Follow Brian Hall on Twitter.
BEST OF MAXIM
ST. PAUL, Minn. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter weren't the only players making their Minnesota Wild debuts Saturday night.
Mikael Granlund, the Finnish sensation who is one of the top prospects in hockey, played his first-ever NHL game and scored his first goal. Granlund, Minnesota's first-round pick in the 2009 draft, is in his first pro season in North America and he had...
ST. PAUL, Minn. The Minnesota Wild went shopping on the Fourth of July last summer and shocked the NHL by signing the top two free agents, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, to matching 13-year, 98 million contracts.
The excitement generated by the signings, which engulfed a state yearning for a winner after four straight years without a playoff appearance, was eventually tempered by the...
from Brian Cazeneuve of Sports Illustrated,
Sure, hockey-crazed Minnesota has yearned for a successful team in the NHL, but a winning Wild would also be just as good for the league as it tries to recover from the long lockout that bruised its image. While Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles have won the last three Stanley Cup titles, Minnesota is hockey's answer to Green Bay...
Led by star newcomers Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Minnesota Wild are looking to complete a perfect season-opening homestand and continue their best start in four years.
To do so, they'll have to knock off Suter's former team, the Nashville Predators, who begin their road schedule Tuesday night trying to shake off back-to-back shootout losses.
Minnesota (2-0-0) is enjoying...
Not only is it the first road game of the season for the Nashville Predators, but it’s also the first chance to boo Ryan Suter!
The Preds take on the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night, January 22, and we want YOU to join us at Brewhouse South in Franklin! Wear all your best Preds and anti-Suter gear and we’ll have prizes to give away!
Puck drops at 7:00pm so be sure to be there...
While the Minnesota Wild made big news before the lockout with a pair of high-profile signings, the Dallas Stars didn't get as much attention when they brought in two of the league's top active scorers.
Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney, though, played a big part in the Stars' season-opening win and will try to help them earn another victory when Dallas returns to its former...
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild's fan base waited six months, through a long summer, and a long lockout, to see their newest players in action. On Saturday, they needed to wait another 20 minutes or so to see them truly perform. After a slow-starting first period, Dany Heatley scored a pair of power play goals -- both of them set up by Zach Parise -- as Minnesota'...
(Photo credit: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune)
Joking that he’s now “better looking again,” Minnesota Wild enforcer Zenon Konopka’s sense of humor appeared to be intact after 30 stitches were needed to close up a gash to the bridge of his nose suffered in the Wild’s season-opening 4-2 over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul.
There is a saying about the calm before the storm. And that is precisely what we have with tonight's game against the Colorado Avalanche. This is the start of what will surely be a whirlwind of a season where the games come at you rapid fire until Spring and what Wild fans hope leads to having a team in the playoffs. In a twisted way the Wild probably couldn't have...
"Welcome back, your dreams were your ticket out. Welcome back, back to that some old place you used to laugh about. Well the names have changed since you hung around, but those dreams haven't changed and they're turned around, who'd have thought they'd lead ya, here where'd we need ya" are the lyrics to the 1970's sitcom Welcome Back Kotter,...
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Zach Parise's first goal in a Wild uniform made the difference, as the Wild improved to 2-0 for the season, shutting out the Dallas Stars 1-0 on Sunday. Dallas got 31 saves from rookie goalie Cristopher Nilstorp in his NHL debut, but could not muster any offense in the Stars' first road game of the season. Parise, the NHL's most talked-about free...
TUESDAY'S STORY LINE: After Niklas Backstrom's solid performance Saturday against Colorado, coach Mike Yeo said there was consideration given to throwing the goalie back in Sunday against Dallas. But the coaches decided to give Josh Harding his first start of the season instead.
"I think it is important early in this year that we give both guys a chance to get a feel...
For the first time since last summer, Shea Weber and the Predators face off against Ryan Suter and the Wild...
Minnesota Wild (1-0-0) 2pts (1st in Northwest)
4.00 Goals For per Game (8th in the NHL)
2.00 Goals Against per Game (17th in the NHL)
13th ranked Power Play (28.6%)
1st ranked Penalty Kill (100%)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #15 Dany Heatley ~ 2G, 0A = 2pts
2. #11 Zach Parise ~ 0G, 2A = 2pts
3. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 0G, 2A = 2pts
4. #96 Pierre-Marc Bouchard...
I used to frequent a wide variety of message boards back in the day, one of the best was good ol' Fanhome. Fanhome was a site that had mini-message boards for all 30 of the league's teams and each board had a tight knit group of posters and some forums were more friendly than others. One team I must admit I have a weakness for is the Nashville Predators. I guess when...