As expected, Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild has won the 2013 Masterton Trophy, awarded to the NHLer who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey". It's a Professional Hockey Writers’ Association joint.
By now, you likely know Harding's story -- how he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but was determined to continue playing and contributing for the Wild all year, but here's the NHL on why Harding deserved the trophy:
Harding, 28 (6/18/84), went 1-1-0 with a 3.24 goals-against average, a .863 save percentage and one shutout in five regular-season games with Minnesota this year and 1-4 with a 2.94 GAA and a .911 SV% in five playoff starts for the Wild. He stopped all 24 shots faced in his first start this season in a 1-0 victory against the Dallas Stars on Jan. 20. Harding was
placed on Injured Reserved Feb. 12 and missed 33 games with the Wild as he battled multiple sclerosis, which was diagnosed last fall. He was assigned to the Houston Aeros (AHL) on a conditioning assignment April 16 and went 1-1-0, stopping 56-of-61 shots for a 3.00 GAA and .918 SV% in two starts and helped Houston clinch a spot in the Calder Cup playoffs before being recalled by Minnesota on April 22.
As pointed out by Mike Russo, Harding is the first Wild player to ever win an end-of-the-year award via vote. Jacques Lemaire won a Jack Adams in 2003, and their goaltenders won a Jennings in 2007, but Lemaire wasn't a player and the Jennings doesn't require consensus -- just the fewest goals against.
Speaking of votes, unlike the other awards announced, the league doesn't release the vote totals on the Masterton. But that's fine. We know that Harding won in a landslide.
While all of the other awards given out Friday (and Saturday) will inspire anywhere from a little to a lot of debate, Harding's Masterton win will not. Again: this is a guy that was diagnosed with MS last fall; the photo above is from a playoff game. That's unbelievable.
Heck, Harding isn't just a worthy winner. He's why this award exists.
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