Wade Redden hadn’t played in the NHL since April 11, 2010 before he stepped on the ice last night with the St. Louis Blues, but that didn’t stop him from picking up where he left off.
After spending the last two seasons in the AHL with the Connecticut Whale, Wade Redden was bought out of his contract with the New York Rangers once the NHL rules on buyouts were established at the end of the lockout. While Redden was approached by a few teams, his connections to the St. Louis Blues and his desire to win a Stanley Cup brought him to the note.
Last night Redden stepped onto the ice for the first time as a member of the St. Louis Blues to play against the Nashville Predators. In his debut with the blue note, Redden played on the top pairing with Alex Pietrangelo.
“There was a little tension, waiting through the lockout and hoping to get an opportunity to get out of my situation,” Redden said. “I was happy that it came and then to come to St. Louis, I was obviously excited about that. Now it’s time to play. It’s the best league in the world. It’s not a right to be playing in it, you’ve got to appreciate it. It’s a privilege to be here.”
The New York Rangers had sent Redden down to the AHL as a way to help avoid his salary cap hit. While many players would have given up or not attended practices, Redden dug deep and saw it as a chance to prove himself once again.
Craig Smith, Wade Redden” src=”http://bleedinblue.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/104/files/2013/01/redden-nash-300×366.jpg” alt=”" width=”300″ height=”366″ />“What do you do?” he said. “I tried to go about business the way I always did, come to the rink every day and try to do my best. Wherever you are, that’s the idea you want to have. I wasn’t ashamed, it was nothing to hang my head about. Obviously it wasn’t a great situation.”
St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock was the one who really thought that Redden could be a good fit with the note. Seeing it as the pressures of a large contract and not a lack of skill, Hitchcock convinced GM Doug Armstrong that signing Redden would only help the team and at a minor cost.
“He fell out of favor there in New York, maybe expectations were higher than his game was being played at, and then it kind of went south from there,” Hitchcock said. “It’s nice to see him get a chance to get it back. I think everybody in hockey, especially in Canada, knows the story (and) is really proud of him. I’m proud of him; I’m proud that he stayed with it and I’m proud of him that he’s getting a second opportunity like this.”
While Redden was once a star in the NHL while playing with the Ottawa Senators, he knows that his time of being a star has come and gone and he is just happy to be back in the game. Redden was paired with one of hockey’s best D-Men in the league in Ottawa, playing alongside Zdeno Chara. Playing in St. Louis will give Redden the chance to play alongside an NHL star once again in Pietrangelo.
One of the factors leading up to the signing of Redden was the opportunity to mentor and play with Petro and it seems like it could be a great fit.
“I’m happy to be here now,” Redden said. “That’s definitely a comfort factor I guess. I know what (Hitchcock) expects from me, he’s laid it out. With the way that his teams play, it’s a system I’m familiar with so I think it will work out good.”
Time will tell how much of Redden’s game will come back while with the Blues, but if last night’s shutout is a sign of the future, it appears Wade Redden may have found himself a home for a little while longer.