Many NHL pundits and fans assumed they had seen the last of Wade Redden in the NHL, after the New York Rangers swept his $6.5 million cap hit under the rug by reassigning him to their AHL affiliate Connecticut Whale from 2010 to 2012.

But those critics were proved wrong after the Rangers cashed in one of their freshly CBA-approved accelerated compliance buyouts earlier this month, and used it to sever ties with Redden and the remaining two seasons of his six year deal with them. It posted him as an available, unrestricted free agent – something that the St. Louis Blues were quick to capitalize on the day after Redden hit the market.

The 35 year old veteran of 13 NHL seasons signed a one year deal with the Blues on January 20th for $800,000 plus another $200K in performance bonuses. That’s $4 million less than what he would have made with New York this year; though he will still earn a pro-rated $3.341 million for 2012-13, and just a little less than that for 2013-14 from the Rangers.

Redden passed a physical, dealt with immigration, and suddenly found himself to be an NHL player once again faster than you can say John Tortorella.

Redden has been skating with St. Louis in the interim, and accompanied them on their recent road trip through Nashville and Chicago. He is slated to resume NHL blue line patrol as early as Thursday, when the Blues take on the Predators at home.

In the meantime, Redden took a few minutes out to chat with me. Here’s what he had to say on his new contract, his time with the Rangers, and everything in between. 

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So you’ve passed your physical and signed your contract, how does it feel to officially be a member of the St. Louis Blues?

Redden: “It’s great. It’s a very exciting time. Last week was a whirlwind. It all happened pretty quick. But I’ve been here for a few days now, and have got to be around everyone and get on the ice with the whole team. I haven’t been on the ice with a group like this for a while. It’s great. I felt good out there. I’ve was on with the [Kelowna] Rockets before, and obviously they’re a great team and all that, but it’s great to get on the ice with this group of guys. We’ve got a great team here with a lot of great young guys. I’m excited to get rolling, and about the chance I have here.”

You hadn’t been playing for anyone else this year until now, but as you mentioned, you were skating with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets just prior to coming to St. Louis; what else did you do to keep in shape during the lockout? Do you think what you did was enough to keep you playing at the NHL pace, especially since you’ve been removed from NHL action for two seasons?  

Redden: “Yeah, definitely it was. There was a group of NHL guys through the whole lockout inKelowna that I skated with. We pushed ourselves pretty good. We kept busy, kept on the ice, and kept training. Obviously it’s a bit of an adjustment anytime you are away for that long, but I’ll get worked back into it pretty quick here, and I should be good to go.”

You’ll be playing under Ken Hitchcock, a Jack Adams Trophy and Stanley Cup winning coach, on a team that many feel is poised to win their first ever Stanley Cup – what are your thoughts on being a part of such a strongly positioned team upon your NHL return?

Redden: “It’s very exciting. The organization here has built a great team. The young guys here have been around a while, and they’re just starting to come into their own and find out what kind of team they are – and they’re a good team. I’m going to try to mix in and add what I can bring, and help the team to do as good as it can.”

You’re one of the oldest guys on this roster – what kind of role do you feel you have as a veteran on this team?

Redden: “I’ve got experience, and I’ve played a lot of games, but I think they just want me to come and play the way I usually play – try to be steady and make good plays. We’ve got a lot of talent up front, and to just try to get the puck to them and let them create things like they can. Just try to be solid, play a good all-around game, and help the team win that way. That’s what they’re expecting from me.”

A lot of people may have thought or assumed that they wouldn’t see Wade Redden in the NHL again after you were reassigned to Connecticut from 2010-12; did you think you would get another chance in the NHL while you were down there?

Redden: “I always felt that I went down there with a purpose. I obviously wasn’t happy about the demotion or getting sent there. And I played in this league for a long time, so I knew I could play. Obviously there were different circumstances that affected my reason for being there. I went down there, worked hard, played hard, tried to be a good teammate, and did all the things I usually do. I always felt like if I did those things, it’d be my best chance to get back. I’m happy and fortunate to have found another chance.”

Did you ever consider retiring while you were playing in the AHL? You’ve played in 994 games in 13 NHL seasons, tallied 450 points thus far, played for Canada 7 times – a very respectable career, and very respectable statistics to leave on. If you didn’t, why did you decide to keep at it?

Redden: “Yeah, I’ve played in a lot of games, but I didn’t feel good about finishing that way, that’s for sure. My time inNew York wasn’t great. I knew I could do better, and I wanted to prove that, not only to myself, but to other people too. I don’t want to rest on what I’ve done thus far. I think there are still good things to happen. I want to keep having fun, keep playing, and you never know – a lot of good things are available if you keep going. You never know what’s going to happen.”

In your opinion, what went wrong in New York? You were so successful in your early years with Ottawa, but you just didn’t seem to gel with the Rangers.

Redden: “I went in there on a big contract. I think maybe making that money there and being the player I am… I felt like the first little while, things were going pretty good, and then they kind of fell off. I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, and like I should have been doing more. Once I started feeling that way, I think I just got away from the things that made me successful. Things just kind of snowballed from there. It wasn’t a good fit from early on, and they made a decision to make changes. I lived with that. It wasn’t a good fit, things didn’t work out, and I’ve moved on. I’m done there now, and am happy to have moved on.”

Sean Avery was in a comparable situation playing in Connecticut after being sent down from the Rangers while you were there; did you ever have any discussions with him about the similar scenarios you found yourselves in?

Redden: “Not really, no. We were both there – kind of buried down there – but our situations were a little different. We never really got into it too much. We were both just trying to make the most of it.”

Do you feel like you have something to prove this year in the NHL? Perhaps to prove the New York Rangers wrong for what they did with you, or something else – or do you just look at this season like business as usual?

Redden: “Yeah, I’m excited. Life goes on. Everyone’s focused on what they’ve got to do. I’ve just got to do what I do best. Yeah, I’ve got pride and I want to do well. But at the same time I’ve got to stay within myself and play the way I can play, do what I can do, and everything will work out just fine.”

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Dave Cunning is a former pro hockey player turned writer, coach and personal trainer. Follow him on Twitter @davecunning, and read his blog at http://davecunning.wordpress.com

 

Comments (18)

  1. Jayzus Justin, fawning much? “Prove them wrong for WHAT THEY DID TO YOU?”

    Like, I dunno….hold him accountable for his bad play? Redden got sent down because of Redden – period.

    • I didn’t do the interview, but dude: you think if Redden’s earning $2-3 he gets sent down? He’s a legit NHLer that was overpaid, and the Rags had to sweep the contract under the rug.

      • Agree. There’s no way that Redden wouldn’t have been in the NHL if he hadn’t signed that monster contract.

        • You guys obviously didn’t watch a single game in his last two seasons with NYR.

          He was slow, disinterested, and three steps behind the play. One fighting major aside, he didn’t display even an ounce of physicality either. He was just another guy who quit upon signing a big deal. Even at 800K he still stunk. Would he have perhaps had his comeback sooner if he were making less? I’ll concede yes. But the problem with Redden, the one that sent him down, was that he sucked. The End. The crocodile tears everyone cries for him are ridiculous.

          And besides, he didn’t do all that great in the AHL either, which begs the question: you mean to tell me there wasn’t another schmuck, SOMEWHERE, whom St. Louis could have signed? Did they really have to pick up some loser who played his way out of the NHL, AND almost played himself out of the A? C’mon. Was Chris Campoli busy?

      • Funny if the Isles swept things under the rug like this you would be all over Charles Wang and Garth now but you don’t want to make any enemies with the Ranger media fans for your career. Seems it’s the Cablevision Rangers who humiliated Redden by not only sending him down but keeping him from earning his five million this year and it’s swept under the rug without the same criticism that Dolan-Sather should have got for Gomez, Drury, Avery. Did Dolan go around recording him like Carmello Anthony?

      • I agree with Justin here. Redden was brought in to be a #1 guy, and paid to be a #1 guy too. He didn’t play well, and the bad play snowballed from there. If he was making 2 mil a year, he would have stayed with the Rangers. I’ll be the first Rangers fan to admit he didn’t live up to expectations. However, I don’t think he stunk it up like others believe.

        With the Rangers having other legit players on their way up (Staal, Girardi, and Del Zotto) they could afford to send him down and spend that money on other guys. It’s paid off for them.

        I don’t think he’s going to light it up with the Blues, but I think he’ll put in a couple goals and 10-12 assists.

        • “He didn’t play well, and the bad play snowballed from there….”

          But wait!

          “However, I don’t think he stunk it up like others believe.”

          Ah, but he did! This is a fact, like global warming, evolution, gravity, and the rest of empirical, demonstrable science. Redden was terrible at any dollar amount, and deserved precisely what he got.

    • Cunning said “what they did WITH you” not TO you. Big difference there Andy. And I agree with Bourne, Redden was always, at the very least, a bottom pairing guy. The contract made him replaceable.

      • Wait, what? Redden was a top guy in Ottawa for years. He was signed to be one, and stunk. He paid the price, as all of us do when we’re bad at our jobs. Why all this revisionist history?

      • Thanks for picking up on that, Daniel. And for tuning Andy in to the actual words that were used.

        • Tomato, tomahto – my point still stands. This odd sense of sympathy anyone has for Redden is totally baffling.

  2. Good interview.

    Considering what happened to him, sounds like he has a good attitude about it. Doesn’t sound bitter and he’s moved on. That’s the best approach to have, I think.

    • Thanks, Noodle. I think you’re right that he is taking the best approach. It sure would be tough to stay positive through all that though. If all goes well in St. Louis, maybe people will forget about how badly the New York experience went for him. Maybe he’ll “accidentally” clear a puck out of the dzone into the Rangers bench in the first game the Blues play New York this year, or something. (He won’t)

      • Pffft. That would be the first display of aggression he’s ever shown in NYC. Except for the fact that he in all probability won’t be in the league next year.

  3. I find the title quoting redden saying his time in NY wasn’t great really gives a false impression of his attitude. Yes, it was a direct quote. But he wasn’t speaking out of bitterness or taking shots at the rangers. He admits fault in his own game. The title just makes him sound like a prick.

    otherwise, good read.

    • I know thats not the actual title of the article, its just what appears on the home page. Not sure who coordinates that.

      • You’re right. It wasn’t a bitter quote. When we spoke, he was not angry about it. He was accepting of the fact he did not perform up to expectations. He wasn’t happy about being “buried” in the AHL, but he he recognized it was what it was, and had definitely moved on.

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