Josh Harding 'a little bit off,' Wild recall goalie Darcy Kuemper
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The Minnesota Wild recalled goaltender Darcy Kuemper from Houston on Tuesday, hours before the second game of a back-to-back at Vancouver.
According to general manager Chuck Fletcher, the move was necessitated not by coach Mike Yeo's seemingly diminished faith in Josh Harding, but complications with medication related to the backup goalie's battle with multiple sclerosis.
"Josh hasn't been feeling great the last few days," Fletcher said. "We've asked Josh to be honest with us and let us know when he doesn't feel that he's 100 percent. He just feels a little bit off.
"What he's going through right now is he's dealing with some medications. There's a lot of trial and error. Every situation's different and the doctors advised us of this a few weeks ago, that eventually, we will get to the right spot where the medication works and his body adapts to it and it's not a one-size-fits-all solution, unfortunately. Every case is different."
It initially appeared Harding, who was diagnosed with MS during the NHL lockout, would play a significant role in spelling Niklas Backstrom in this truncated season. He shut out Dallas in his season debut on Jan. 20.
But five nights later, Harding surrendered five goals in a loss at Detroit, then was lifted after allowing two goals less than 7 minutes into his next start against Chicago. Harding, 28, has appeared in only one other game since, relieving Backstrom for the third period of Thursday's loss to the Canucks.
"We're going to get there," Fletcher said. "We're very optimistic about that. But right now, he feels a little off. And I give him credit. It's against a hockey player's nature to come in and say he doesn't feel he can do it. He feels down a little bit about it. But we really support him and I give him a lot of credit for coming forward and giving us this information. It's in his best interest and our team's best interest to do this"
Kuemper, 22, is 10-6-0 with a 1.79 goals-against average and four shutouts in 16 games this season for the Aeros. The German-Canadian was a sixth-round pick (161st overall) in the 2009 entry draft.
Spurgeon, 23, missed the last nine games with a lower-body injury suffered on Jan. 22 against Nashville. Kassian, 26, had not appeared in a game this season.