Why the Masterton Trophy Matters to Me This Year

This blog post is about two things I’m very passionate about — my husband, Matt, and hockey. Even if you’re not a hockey fan, please take a couple minutes and read this.

The NHL gives out all kinds of post-season awards. For instance, the Vezina Trophy goes to the best goaltender, and the Calder Trophy goes to the best rookie. But the award that has my attention this year is the Masterton Trophy, which goes to the player who exemplifies “perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.” In other words, the award goes to the comeback player of the year.

I usually wouldn’t give the Masterton a second thought, but this year it matters quite a bit to me. That’s because one of the nominees — goaltender Josh Harding from the Minnesota Wild — has multiple sclerosis, just like Matt.

Harding was diagnosed with MS during the offseason. Nevertheless, he started the second game for the Wild in the lockout-shortened season. He stopped 24 shots for a 1-0 shutout against the Dallas Stars. He missed part of the season because he “felt off” due to his medication and then searched for the right combination. After some time out and a rehab stint in the minors, he was back with the Wild as the back-up goaltender. And when starting goaltender Niklas Backstrom was injured during warmups during Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs, Harding was there to fill in for the series.

At the end of the season Harding said, “I’m definitely happy with where I’m at now [health-wise], but I’ll be even more dialed in next year. I played five games in nine days, and without that little injury, I was feeling great. No setbacks at all.”

I really want Josh Harding to win the Masterton Trophy this year. Sure, it brings awareness to MS, and people who know nothing about the disease may learn something. But Harding’s success this year shows that life does go on after an MS diagnosis and that it is not a death sentence. Unlike a certain celebrity after her son’s diagnosis (I’m looking at you, Sharon). A professional hockey player can keep playing, even after finding out he has MS. Harding is an inspiration for all MS patients, including Matt.

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