Harding nominated for Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy


For a second consecutive season Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding is up for the National Hockey League's Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.

Harding was nominated by the Twin Cities' chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. The award goes to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. It honors former Minnesota North Star Bill Masterton, who died in 1968 after an injury sustained during a game, according to NHL.com.

Harding was voted the winner of the 2013 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, becoming the first player in franchise history to win a voted-on NHL award, according to Wild.com.

Harding hasn't played since Dec. 31 due to complications with his multiple sclerosis, which he was diagnosed with in 2012. Before the complications, Harding was the NHL's top goalie, and his 1.65 goals-against average and .933 save percentage are still ranked No. 1 in the NHL.

He recently returned to practice with his teammates, but it remains unlikely that he'll play again this season.

“When you’re out and especially when it’s not a leg or an arm injury, your appreciation for the game, appreciation for how hard you’ve actually worked your entire life to get where you’re at just grows,” Harding said, according to the Pioneer Press. “For myself, how bad I miss hockey and how bad I miss competing with the boys is very, very difficult to deal with. You miss competing, you miss being out there with the boys and you just want to be a part of the team and help them in any way you can.”

Niklas Backstrom, Darcy Kuemper and Illya Bryzgalov join Harding as the foursome who have each, at one time or another, been the Wild's No. 1 goalie. Backstrom is out for the season with an injury and Kuemper is currently sidelined with an injury of his own. Bryzgalov, meanwhile, has stepped in and guided the Wild to a 7-0-3 record in 10 starts since being traded to Minnesota in early March.

The Wild beat the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night and in doing so clinched a playoff spot.

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