23 Intently Staring Goalies
by lsefton on 04/24/13 at 05:45 PM ET
"The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is an annual award under the trusteeship of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and is given to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey."
I could write a frothy paragraph, but you know, I don't think I could add anything.
Mike Russo at the StarTribune says it all:
Josh Harding could have disappeared into the sunset. Nobody would have blamed him.
Given the life-jarring diagnosis of multiple sclerosis last fall, the Wild goaltender would have been justified to put his career aside and concentrate on his health.
Instead, soon after being told he had the incurable autoimmune disease where his body randomly attacks and eats away the protective lining of his nerves and causes them to scar, Harding selflessly revealed his condition publicly so it would not become a distraction if it got out during a shortened season. Sure enough, Harding did have complications, but his previous revelation meant he could get things under control for two months without being peppered with questions.
Harding made it crystal clear the moment he got the life-altering news that his NHL career would continue. He shut out Dallas in his first start and last weekend played a two-game conditioning stint with Houston, helping the Aeros clinch a playoff spot.
“I think if anyone was in my situation, they’d do the exact same thing,” said Harding, who backed up Niklas Backstrom on Tuesday against Los Angeles for the first time since Feb. 11. “You’ve been playing hockey all your life and to let something come in the way of it, you usually don’t – you’ll find a way to make it happen.
“Obviously it took a little bit of time to get everything dialed in. Every day is going to be different. You can’t predict the future, but I think everybody in my position would do the same thing.”
Harding’s perseverance and strength though when tested with true adversity is why the Minnesota chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association has chosen him as the Wild’s nominee for the Bill Masterton trophy. The honor is given annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey.
Since I have covered the team, our nominees have been, in order from 2005-06 to 2011-12, Wes Walz, Marian Gaborik, Aaron Voros, Kurtis Foster, Guillaume Latendresse, Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Clayton Stoner.
“I’m definitely honored beyond belief,” said Harding. “The support has been amazing. The fans here in Minnesota, around North America, it’s come in from everywhere. I definitely will have more time in the summer to look back on everything and definitely thank a lot of people. Right now there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that people don’t see. Right now unfortunately, selfishly, I have to look after myself to keep my end of the bargain on this team. I have a job to do and I have to make sure I’m ready every day. There’s always going to be time to reflect. When that time comes, hopefully we all have a big smile on our face.”
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About 23 Intently Staring Goalies
23 Intently Staring Goalies comes from the 23 close-up photos of goalies that used to line the walls of my office.
On the good side, it kept down interruptions, but it also made sure I had to leave my trash outside my door if I wanted it picked up.
I've been watching and analyzing goaltenders for going on 40 years. Some of that was spent drawing goalies on my grade 8 math homework. Then it was taking my card decks and printouts to Indianapolis Racer games. Luckily, the Internet took off, and by 1991 I was half of the duo that would ultimately become the Plaidworks hockey mailing lists. I wrote "Handicapping the Goalies' for the San Jose Sharks mailing list, and took a lot of photos of goalies in action. I have around 5000 slides of mostly goaltenders in action from 1989 through 2001 from the WHL, IHL and NHL. Since I've gone digital, I've added about 10,000 more images to the library. During summers and when the league went dark, I was reading through multiple SF By area news papers, tracking ice hockey from the 1917 recreational leagues up through the California Seals.
We'll be talking about goalies and goaltending. We'll talk about whats going on now, who's in the system, and when the doldrums hit, I'll haul something out of the big bag of history, or something from the photo archives. We'll talk about who's hot and why, and who's not and what they can do to get back on track. We'll take a look at the trends in scouting goalies, and why a style may work for one team but not another. I'll battle with my dictation software to get it to understand Bryzgalov and Bobrovsky.
It should be interesting--hope you want to come along for the ride!