I’m sure many NHL fans will have already seen this, but if not, it’s a must read. Josh Harding, the back-up goalie for the Minnesota Wild, has been diagnosed with the incurable disease Multiple Sclerosis. I know many people who have had to deal with this within their family, and have known a couple of sufferers myself, and I can tell you it can be a pretty devastating condition. Harding sounds like he is taking this incredibly well, and doesn’t sound like he has any intention of giving in to it, so massive kudos right there.
He’s a very talented goalie, and if he weren’t so loyal to the Wild (not that that’s a bad thing by any means, it’s highly commendable) he might already be a starter in the NHL, so to come down with this disease might have an impact on his career, depending on how his treatment goes and how severely it affects him.
However, as he states in the article, it’s not about the hockey. It’s about the health. So first and foremost I wish Harding all the best with his health, and secondly I hope he continues his productive NHL career.
Tragic news, courtesy of the EIHL website, as Kaspars Astasenko, former member of the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL and the Belfast Giants of the EIHL, has died at the tender age of 37.
The Latvian played in many leagues, including the NHL, the AHL, the ECHL, the Danish league, the EHL, the EIHL, the IHL, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, several Russian leagues, Slovakia, the Finnish SM-Liiga, and most recently the Finnish 4th Division. He also represented his country at the World Juniors and the World Championships.
It is unknown yet what the cause of death is.
My thoughts go out to his loved ones and to all that knew him.
The next instalment of this series is the Toronto Maple Leafs. The team was founded in 1917, first being known as the Toronto Arenas, then as the Toronto St Patricks from 1919, and finally as the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1926, and has an amazing array of great hockey players throughout their history. I’d hesitate to put many in the same league as some of the stars from the Montreal Canadiens – given the “influence” the Habs had on the game and the league throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s, they were nearly guaranteed most of the top players in the game – but many of Toronto’s alumni are legends in their own right. The team owns the league record for most Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year) wins with 9, and have the most number of players inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame out of any team, with 55 inductees. No doubt, as with all these lists, their will be some disagreement as to what line or pairing a player should be on (I predict great upset over the placings of Kessel and Sundin!), but this isn’t so much about ranking the players, as it is about recognising what they did whilst a member of the team. And sometimes there just isn’t room to have players where you’d like them to be! There aren’t a great deal of current, or even recent, Leafs players on this list; that is perhaps an indictment of their ineptness over the last decade or so. I wouldn’t be surprised if that changed in the not too distant future though, with young players like Gardiner and Rielly coming through, just to name a couple.
Thanks to the Legends of Hockey website and Wikipedia for providing some of the information used, as well as NHL.com for the statistics provided.
According to NHL.com, veteran defenceman Jaro Spacek, most recently of the Carolina Hurricanes, has decided to retire. Here is the press release:
Jaroslav Spacek, who played for seven NHL teams during his 880-game career, has decided to retire, according a report in the Czech Republic.
The report is from the website iSports.cz. Spacek played 46 games last season, and was traded from Montreal to Carolina in December. He has 82 goals and 355 points in his career, which included stints with Florida, Chicago (twice), Columbus, Edmonton, Buffalo, Montreal and Carolina.
Spacek was a fifth-round pick in the 1998 NHL Draft. He had at least 40 points three times, including 45 in 2002-03 and 2008-09. The rugged defenseman also represented his native Czech Republic three times at the Winter Olympics, claiming a gold medal in 1998 in Nagano, Japan.
Never really a star player, but always a solid, dependable, two-way defender, Spacek was an important piece of many teams in his career. He is fondly remembered by many Oiler fans for his short stint in 2006, when he was a huge part of the team’s quality blueline corps that went all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. He finished his career with 82 goals and 355 points.
Goodbye, and thank you, Jaro.
Next up in the All-Time Roster series is the Phoenix Coyotes. As I will with all teams in this series, I will include their time spent in the NHL as the Winnipeg Jets from 1979 to 1996 – this is as much a part of their history as their time spent in the desert, perhaps even more so. The Coyotes/Jets have had some wonderful players in their time in the league, but unfortunately they’ve never really had enough of them together at the same time and as such have never had much success as a franchise, although things are starting to look up for the team, as they reached the Western Conference Finals for the first time this past year. Thanks to the Legends of Hockey website and Wikipedia for providing some of the information used, as well as NHL.com for the statistics provided.