Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Josh Harding back on the ice for Wild

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wild news, Wild practice Updated: March 28, 2013 - 3:10 PM

 Rarely has anybody been as excited about taking part in an optional practice as Josh Harding was today.

Harding got to Xcel Energy Center early. Warmed up. Waited.  Then, in pads, he took the ice with four teammates in a very informal setting and took some shots.

“It was an exciting day,” Harding said.

Another step.

It was discovered last fall that Harding had multiple sclerosis. It was hoped that it could be contained with proper treatment. But, after his body didn’t react well to his medication, he was put on injured reserve Feb. 12 . That began a weeks-long process of trying to find the right treatment combination. A process that was, for Harding, at times very difficult.

“The slope I was taking, I could feel it,” Harding said. “I think everybody around me was noticing, too. It was going downhill, and a couple days you wonder if you’re going to get better. The scariest thing was when I tried some things that were supposed to help me and they didn’t. And that was when it kind of started getting to me, that this might be serious. And you think about hockey, you think about how your life is going to change. That’s why it’s exciting for myself to feel better this last week and a half.”

Harding is confident in his new treatment regimen. He has been working out hard for a week and a half. He had skated twice before Thursday, but hadn’t taken any shots. That’s why being in net and taking shots was so important.

There is no timetable for his return. That won’t be determined until Harding, the doctors, coach Mike Yeo and general manager Chuck Fletcher all get together and talk about the situation.

But Harding said he feels good.

“I think we kinda got it under wraps here,” he said. “This was a big step for me. Hopefully it just keeps going the right way.”

 

Here are a couple other notes from today:

 

--Yeo wouldn’t say whether he plans on having goalie Niklas Backstrom stay in the Twin Cities while the rest of the team goes to Dallas. We will know more later this afternoon, as a move would have to be made if Backstrom stays behind to get some rest. “I haven’t considered it yet,” Yeo said. “Or, maybe I have.”

But Mike Russo is pretty certain Backstrom won't be on the trip, which would mean Matt Hackett would need to get called up later this afternoon. If that is the case, the question is, who will start, Hackett or Darcy Kuemper?  Hackett struggled with Houston on Tuesday. Backstrom, who has had a heavy workload of late, would then be rested for Saturday's home game against Los Angeles. 

 

--Yeo wasn’t about to talk about any potential lineup changes. And that includes whether the recent play of defensemen Tom Gilbert and Justin Falk. Brett Clark and Nate Prosser were two of the three skaters at Thursday’s optional skate – Mike Rupp was the other. Might it be time for Clark to make his Wild debut?

 

--Here is Yeo on the trade of Jarome Iginla to Pittsburgh:  “There is a reason why good players want to go play there,” Yeo said. “They’ve created a winning culture there, and players want the chance to win.’’

But won’t it be strange to play Calgary without seeing Iginla in a Flames uniform? “It will be good, that’s for sure,” Yeo said.

 

That’s about all for now. Russo will be back in the saddle tomorrow.

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