When the Minnesota Wild hit the ice in Chicago to practice on Wednesday, it wasn't the new addition of rookie Christian Folin that was the highlight. Instead it was the return to practice of Josh Harding.
The Wild goaltender who got off to such an amazing start to the season with the best numbers in the NHL, practiced with the team for the first time since mid-January. Harding has been out as he has adjusted to changes in his treatment for multiple sclerosis.
(Here's some more on Harding's story from Gregg Doyel.)
It was an excellent sight and long overdue for Harding and the Wild.
While it was just the first practice back and it's going to take some time before he can think of getting back in the lineup, Mike Doyle of the Wild's website noted Harding looked good on the ice.
Harding looked comfortable in net and was in for long stretches of time, swapping the cage with John Curry, who was recalled from the team's American Hockey League affiliate earlier today, along with forward Jake Dowell.
Curry, by the way, was called up with Darcy Kuemper a little dinged, leaving the No. 1 duty to Ilya Bryzgalov for the moment. It won't be Harding behind Bryz.
Whenever he is up to speed and able to return, he'll still never have a definitive status according to coach Mike Yeo.
"The reality is he's always going to be day-to-day basically."
Still, it is great to see Harding getting back on the ice and working toward returning to the Wild. Before he was taken out of the lineup, Harding was considered by many as the favorite for the Vezina Trophy with his .933 save percentage and 1.65 goals against average in 29 games. Meanwhile the Wild ahve hit the last six games of their season in playoff position, four points up on ninth-place Phoenix.