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Harding on AHL conditioning assignment

Wild goalie Josh Harding, who is battling MS, will go to Houston on a conditioning assignment.

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Josh Harding is getting closer to returning to the Minnesota Wild and the NHL as he continues to fight multiple sclerosis.

On Tuesday, Harding was assigned to the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League for a conditioning assignment, leaving the goalie one step away from returning to the Wild for the first time since he was placed on injured reserve Feb. 12. Harding had returned to practice last week.

The 28-year-old reserve was diagnosed with MS late last summer. He worked to be ready for the start of the lockout-shortened season, beginning the year with the Wild and playing in four games with a 1-1-0 record, 2.92 goals-against average and .885 save percentage.

But in February, Harding had to take a step back as he adjusted to a change in medication. That led Minnesota to place him on injured reserve. Rookie goaltenders Matt Hackett and Darcy Kuemper rotated behind starter Niklas Backstrom before Hackett was dealt to Buffalo at the trade deadline.

Harding's last game was Feb. 7, when he came on in relief of Backstrom and played the third period. Harding believes he and his doctors have figured out the correct medication.

"We think we got it all dialed in," Harding said last week. "We're excited for the future. …We're just going to take it day to day. Right now, there's absolutely nothing that's a negative to this whole situation. I go day to day, I'm feeling great, and I'm just excited to be back."

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