Sports

Heat goalie coach Sigalet reaches out to Harding after MS diagnosis

Story by Dan Kanvig/Abbotsford News

Abbotsford Heat goaltending coach Jordan Sigalet has had a Twitter account for months now, but it wasn't until Wednesday that he felt the need to cross over from observer to active participant.

Sigalet is a former Victoria Salsa (Grizzlies) netminder, having played two seasons there from 1999-2001.

"Thoughts go out to Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild tonight who was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis," Sigalet said in his first-ever tweet, via his @JMSigalet feed.

Harding, the Wild's backup goalie, disclosed that he'd received the MS diagnosis two months ago. It's an inflammatory disease which attacks the body's immune system and affects the central nervous system.

Back in 2003, Sigalet was a promising Boston Bruins prospect at Bowling Green State University when he was told he had MS. He kept it a secret for nine months, fearful that the Bruins would give up on him.

But Sigalet eventually went public with his MS battle, and he became an inspirational figure to many people suffering from the disease. He continued his playing career, spending three years in the Bruins' minor league system and getting into one NHL game. He also started a foundation, Shut Out MS, which stages a dinner and charity hockey game in Burnaby every second year.

As a fellow goalie living with the disease, Sigalet is perhaps the only person on the planet who can understand exactly what Harding is going through.

"I'm going to get in touch with him, either today or tomorrow," Sigalet said. "I just kind of want things to slow down for Josh.

"It made things real for me again – what I went through when I was diagnosed. I know exactly what he's feeling. It's great that he's got unbelievable support from his teammates, the organization and obviously his family."

Sigalet's main message to Harding will be that he can live a normal life and manage the disease.

"It's not a life sentence, obviously," he said. "He's caught it early and he's going to get treatment early, and it's going to make a big difference in his life. Once he learns his body and how the disease is going to take its course, I think he's going to be able to have a long, good career still ahead of him.

"I look forward to touching base with him, and hopefully we can team up down the road and get some fundraising going."

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