Josh Harding will be the first Adrenaline player in club history to have his number retired.
The former Adrenaline/Avalanche star and Goodall Cup Champion will have his #22 retired and hung in the IceArena on July 22nd during the game vs. Perth Thunder.
"I don't really know what to say," said Harding upon learning the news. "It's a huge honour...but I'm at a bit of a loss for words."
The honour is significant, often considered to be the highest one can receive from their club in sport. Nobody will wear #22 again. And there is only one "first" person to have their number retired.
"I'm not sure it really matters whether you are the first person or tenth person to have their number retired," said Harding. "[This] is probably the biggest individual honor you can receive and very humbling."
Club President Eric Balnar says the honour is well deserved.
"We consulted a lot of people who had been involved with the club a long time - including guys like Greg Oddy - and everybody agreed Josh deserves this honour. When we told him the news he was totally speechless. A little bit stunned, even. You can tell this club means every thing to him and he had some special times," says Balnar.
Former Adrenaline head coach and president Ryan O'Handley, who coached Harding both with Adelaide and the National Team, says he considers Josh the best Australian defenseman of his era.
Harding was the total package on the ice. He used his combination of size and speed perfectly to compliment his incredible puck skills.
"He was as good as any import that was brought into the league," says O'Handley. "He could play any role on the team and in any type of game."
Harding's numbers back up O'Handley's claim.
In 250 AIHL games, good for third most in an Adelaide uniform, Harding clocked up 185 points, a Goodall Cup and seven selections to the National Team.
"I just wanted to be the best team mate and player I could be. For me, that was just going out there and giving everything I had," says Harding. "[Even with the National Team] I tried to show up to camp and try to keep things light hearted and once again just give everything."
Former teammate Greg Oddy, who will be the next Adrenaline player to have his jersey number retired, said Harding's skill level made him one of the best Australian players ever.
"He had all the tools. His ability to read the play, work ethic, attitude, everything. To put up the numbers he did as a defenseman is phenomenal," says Oddy.
"What you don't see on the stats sheet though is how difficult he was to play against. He's no doubt one of the best players this country has ever produced."
Harding grew up playing hockey with his brother Luke. His father Grant is a former South Australian Ice Sports Federation President and life member.
O'Handley says Harding was a unique player in Australia.
"He controlled the game," he says. "It's not a common thing to be able to do that. He had this knack of picking the correct time to jump into the play offensively and he often tipped the outcome of many games to our favour."
Harding says the road was not possible without the support of an entire community.
"I have to thank my parents who guided me through my younger years, my wife for putting up with me when I was tired or injured (which was most of the time) and everyone that supported me along the journey. Another massive thank you to Ben and Graeme from Power Play Sports for all of their support over the years."
He will be at the game on Sunday so make sure you thank him. In fact, he still comes out to the games to cheer on the boys.
"The only advice I give the younger guys is enjoy it and don't take it for granted," he says.
"It ends before you know it."
Don't miss the event - Get tickets to this weekend: http://bit.ly/adrenalinetickets