The Wild are still hoping Josh Harding will be back this season, but with only 23 games remaining when Minnesota resumes play Feb. 27, it becomes less likely each day.

Harding was not at practice Wednesday when the Wild returned from their Olympic hiatus with a practice at Braemar Arena in Edina. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and on injured reserve since Dec. 31, he hasn't skated in nearly two months.

"Obviously, it's getting difficult," coach Mike Yeo said. "We feel for him right now, but we're behind him and we just want to see him get better and get ready to get back with us."

The Wild are reluctant to categorize Harding's ailment, and Yeo said there has been no talk of the goal-- tender's season being over.

"We haven't had any of those conversations," he said. "I'm still hoping that every day he's going to feel better and he's back in the lineup. But again, we don't want to put any pressure on him. We want to be here for him, so when he feels better and he's ready to rejoin us, we'll be more than happy to have him back."

Harding, 29, was one of the NHL's best goaltenders when healthy and still leads the league with a 1.65 goals-against average (and is third with a .933 save percentage). But he hasn't played in a game since Dec. 29-31, when he returned from a brief break to alter his MS medication.

Right now, the Wild are just hoping to hear some good news. Asked how often he talks to Harding, Yeo said "a little bit more frequently earlier, but lately we've just been giving him his space. So not very frequently right now."

Rookie Darcy Kuemper, 8-3-2 with a 2.46 goals-against average, has been the Wild's top goaltender in Harding's absence. He and Nik Backstrom were in net during practice Wednesday. The Wild signed Shorewood native John Curry to a two-way contract for depth on Monday but sent him back to Iowa when he cleared waivers.