Sounds like Josh Harding’s playing career might soon be over.
Following Minnesota’s end-of-year media availability on Monday, the Star-Tribune reported that Harding is “expected” to retire this offseason after missing all but two games with AHL Iowa this season, while dealing with complications from multiple sclerosis.
“I wouldn’t want to speak for him,” Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said, “but he has bigger issues than just hockey.”
Harding, 30, had a difficult 2014-15 campaign. Expected to challenge for minutes with the Wild, he fractured his foot during an off-ice incident in training camp and was subsequently suspended by the team before getting waived in November.
After clearing, Harding reported to AHL Iowa and appeared in two games — but exited his second due to dehydration, and never played again.
Should this mark the end of Harding’s career, it’s an unfortunate denouement for an otherwise remarkable story. After being diagnosed with MS in 2012, Harding vowed to “not just overcome this, but really succeed with it.” Shortly thereafter, he returned to action with the Wild and captured the 2013 Masterton Trophy.
In the first half of the ’13-14 season, Harding was brilliant — 18-7-3, 1.66 GAA, .933 save percentage — and was widely considered to be in the running for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top netminder.