The Wild hoped the Olympic break would bring more clarity to Josh Harding’s status, but after the goalie didn’t practice Wednesday, coach Mike Yeo said there’s been no change.
Harding started only twice since leaving the team Dec. 18 to have an adjustment to his treatment for multiple sclerosis.
“We feel for him,” Yeo said. “We’re behind him and we just want to see him get better and get ready to get back with us.”
With only 23 games left starting with back-to-back games next Thursday and Friday in Edmonton and Vancouver, there’s a question as to whether Harding, arguably the Wild’s first-half MVP, plays again this season.
Yeo says those conversations haven’t taken place.
“I’m still hoping that every day he’s going to feel better and he’s back in the lineup,” Yeo said. “We don’t want to put any pressure on him. We want to be here for him, so when he feels better and when he’s ready to rejoin us, we’ll be more than happy to welcome him back.”
Rookie Darcy Kuemper started 12 consecutive games before the Olympic break and is 8-3-2 with a 2.46 goals-against average. Veteran Niklas Backstrom, who missed the last game Feb. 6 against Nashville, saw the abdominal specialist who repaired his sports hernia last spring in Philadelphia over the break.
Backstrom said he knows now what “he’s dealing with,” although he said it’s up to the team whether it wants to divulge information.
Backstrom, who missed a Jan. 7 start in Los Angeles and two other games because of soreness he has previously said he felt was related to last year’s ailment, said he has been given new treatment protocols and off-ice workouts and hopes the problem doesn’t linger.
“The next couple days will tell a lot,” Backstrom said.
• Winger Jason Zucker, who had a “minor” leg procedure during the break, didn’t practice Wednesday, nor did defenseman Marco Scandella, who sprained an MCL on Feb. 4. Yeo said Zucker had a doctor’s appointment Wednesday and the hope was that both could rejoin the team soon.
• The Wild recalled center Jake Dowell and defenseman Jon Blum to fill in for missing Olympians.
• Center Erik Haula stayed with Iowa to play in at least the next three games. After the weekend, the Wild will determine center Mikko Koivu’s status before deciding whether to recall Haula.
• Winger Nino Niederreiter, who played for Switzerland in the Olympics, is expected to return Thursday. He’ll be given a few days off to rest.
• Wild players returned from sunny vacations to a hard practice Wednesday. “They started a little more tan, but they had sort of a burnt complexion by the end,” joked Yeo.