Josh Harding- As I true Oiler fan, I spent Tuesday evening watching the Oilers take on the Montreal Canadiens. I was especially intrigued as the visiting Oilers should have had a wealth of motivation after Canadiens player Lars Eller referred to them as, “like a junior team.” It didn’t look great early, as after the first period the Oilers were down 2-0. Much to Eller’s and the rest of the Canadiens disappointment, the Oilers came back to win 4-3. Once the game was finished, I quickly switched to the Minnesota Wild versus the Nashville Predators game which had about 15 minutes remaining in the third period with the Wild up 1-0. I could say that I switched to watch my two Fantasy Hockey League goaltenders, Pekka Rinne (Nashville) and Josh Harding (Minnesota) or to watch highly touted Predators rookie Seth Jones, but the truth is I switched in hopes of watching Josh Harding pitch a shutout. Harding, like me, is living with Multiple Sclerosis. He is a source of inspiration for many as even though his lives with this terrible disease, he is playing in the top professional league in hockey.
I’m also happy to report that Harding and the Wild held onto the shutout and the Wild won the game 1-0.
Harding has had an amazing start to the season with a 4-2 record and a 1.11 goals against average to go along with a .948 save percentage. Not only is he playing in the NHL with Multiple Sclerosis, but he is posting All-Star caliber numbers to start the season. He may not be playing for your favorite team, but what he is doing right now transcends being a fan and everyone should be able to find inspiration in his story. I know I do. I wrote about Harding last season, when he put on a show in the playoffs, and felt I should write about him again with the great start he is having this season.
Living with MS is very hard because of the unpredictable nature of the disease. For instance, I have no idea if tomorrow will be a good day, bad day, or somewhere in the middle. The other unnerving aspect is that you never know if another big attack is around the corner and if that attack is going to be the one where you lose your sight or your ability to walk. My last major attack was in 2006 and like Harding, I like to believe it hasn’t slowed me down. Since that attack my symptoms have been fairly mild compared to others and I can’t really complain- I’ve gotten married, run three half marathons, had two children, and can still do most everything I did before. I had to change my outlook and lifestyle, but I’m now 37 and that was coming anyway. I even play ice hockey from time to time, but unlike Harding, I was never really that good so the MS wouldn’t have made much difference.
You may not find this interesting, but if you have someone in your life living with MS, I’d bet they will. Chances are if you are living in Alberta (or Canada) you know someone who is affected. If they don’t already know Josh Harding’s story, I’m sure upon discovery they not only find inspiration, but take comfort in it as well.
Until next time,