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Goalie Harding returns to practice with Wild in Chicago

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Josh Harding has returned to practice with the Minnesota Wild.

The Star Tribune's Michael Russo reports Harding has joined the Wild in Chicago and practiced with the team for the first time since Jan. 19.

Harding has been sidelined since Dec. 31 due to complications from multiple sclerosis. He was placed on Injured Reserve on Jan. 2 after feeling ill.

“It’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with, for sure,” Harding said to the media after practice.

The 29-year-old goalie was one of the best in the NHL before missing time. He posted an 18-7-2 record, a .933 save percentage and a 1.65 goals-against average.

"If I could have been out there, I would have been out there, it's tough, it was tough," Harding added. 

Harding's return comes at a good time. Darcy Kuemper is out with an upper-body injury, so the Wild practiced with Thursday's starter Ilya Bryzgalov, recently called up John Curry and Harding.

He is still a ways from getting on the ice in a game though, Russo writes that there is no chance Harding would be able to return without an eventual conditioning stint in Iowa.

During his chat with the media Harding said he had been getting some ice time on his own. He returned to the ice around the middle of March.

According to the Star Tribune, Wild coach Mike Yeo said, "I know that he doesn't want us really talking about [his MS], but the reality is it's always going to be day-today, basically. But he's feeling very good right now and he's motivated."

Yeo said it was great to see him out there. He added its a first step and they'll try and figure out some plan for him going forward.

The Iowa Wild only have nine games remaining, so if Harding goes down to Iowa for a quick rehab-stint, it would have to happen fairly soon.

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