So, I discovered something this morning, and I have a feeling I am very (very) slow on this. Still, I think it is worth mentioning since it is likely to be THE best story to come out of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Minnesota Wild v Chicago Blackhawks. Game 1. The Minnesota Wild lose regular starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom to injury…..during warm-up. Bring on back up goaltender, Josh Harding, (who had only played in 5 games this season) just minutes before the opening game of the playoffs.
The Blackhawks admitted they knew very little about Josh Harding. When asked if the Blackhawks had spent much time before the series examining Harding, Patrick Kane said “No”.
Stopping a remarkable 35 shots during the game, Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews commented post match that Harding’s effort was “nothing short of amazing”.
The Blackhawks came away with the win 2-1 in overtime. But without the exceptional goaltending of Josh Harding, the score line could have been much greater.
The most impressive part of this story, is that Josh Harding suffers from Multiple Sclerosis (MS), an auto-immune disease which affects the central nervous system. Symptoms include muscle weakness, spasm, fatigue and cognitive impairment. Harding publicly announced his condition during the lockout to avoid distracting saying:
It would make me happy to overcome this……..to really succeed with it. I don’t want people treating me different.
The only thing that bothers me about this is Harding’s failure to acknowledge his disease post-match. On one hand I understand that he didn’t want the whole sympathy thing to overshadow his brilliant performance, he wants to be seen as a hockey player, not a victim and when questioned post-match about the MS, he responded with “No comment”. However, on the other hand it would have been nice to allow himself to be the inspiration everybody is writing him up to be despite his protests. If you are going to be hailed as an inspiration, own it.
Regardless, the publicity generated by Harding’s performance coupled with fact that he suffers MS, can only be seen as positive for the cause. So a job well done to him whether he owns it or not.
I’m pretty sure we will all be cheering for him to continue his good form. Well, maybe not us Blackhawks fans (we’ll be doing it quietly).