Wild goaltender Josh Harding practices for the first time this season


Josh Harding is nearing a return to the Minnesota Wild. Harding participated in his first practice of the season on Monday as the team prepares for its game on Tuesday in New Jersey.

Harding, who broke his foot during an altercation with a teammate, has been out the entire season to this point.

According to the Star Tribune, Harding was cleared to practice on Sunday. He will be one of a trio of injured Wild stars who will travel with the team to New Jersey, but won't play.

"It was great seeing all the guys again and getting that competition back," Harding told the Star Tribune. "Just challenging yourself to stop every shot, just going out there and doing your job. This was another step. Whatever I can do to help this team out, that's the next step."

It has been a long road back onto the ice for Harding. He had the best goalie stats in the NHL through the early portion of last season, but he missed the entire second half because of complications from his multiple sclerosis.

Then just prior to the opening of training camp, Harding kicked a wall following an altercation with a teammate and broke his foot. He was suspended without pay following the incident.

"He looked fast," Wild coach Mike Yeo told the Pioneer Press. "He didn't look like a guy that has not been on the ice for a long period of time."

Despite bringing him on the New Jersey road trip, Yeo didn't set a timeline for Harding to return to the team.

"It's very early stages here, just Step 1: Get him out there with the group," Yeo said.

Without Harding, Darcy Kuemper has started 10 games in net for the Wild, while Niklas Backstrom has started the other three.

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