Wade Redden officially ended his NHL career Thursday when he retired from the league he played over 1,000 games in for 4 different teams.
Redden still sits third on the franchise’s game played list at 838. His offensive totals of 101 goals, 309 assists and 410 points are by far the franchise best for defensemen.
Redden never won the elusive Stanley Cup, making the finals twice (2007 with Ottawa, 2013 with Boston), and will be remembered mostly for his final season where his play seemed to drop off the cliff.
He will also be remembered (unfairly) as the reason Zdeno Chara left for Boston as an unrestricted free agent. In hindsight the situation is often mis-remembered as a choice the Senators made between Redden and Chara, and the Senators chose Redden. The truth is, the Senators offered Redden and Chara matching contracts to stay. It might have been a bit below market value at the time, but the team was building for something big. Redden chose to stay, Chara chose to leave for more money and the captaincy in Boston. It wasn’t Redden or the Senators’ fault.
People tend to forget just how good of a player Redden was in his prime. Regarded as one of the premier offensive defensemen in the league at a time when goals were hard to come by.
Redden was among a select group that led the charge of the Senators from expansion laughingstock to perennial contender. He was the go-to guy on the blue line and although his defensive play wasn’t his strongest suit, he got the job done and was good at starting the rush from the back end with a good outlet pass. Despite that fact, he was often cast in the role of whipping boy from the general public as it was often felt there was just a little bit more to give.
Rumors persist about the off-ice activities of Redden and some of his teammates from that era, but I can neither confirm nor deny any of those, and besides it was the on-ice performance as well as the community support Redden gave that would make him a consideration for such an honor.
In terms of his career in Ottawa, I liken it to the anti-Alfredsson. Wildly popular at the start, but at the end Redden was pretty much run out of town. Daniel Alfredsson took some time to catch onto the hearts of the fans, but at the end he had reached god-like status (at least until July 5th, 2013).
If it were up to me, I would retire his jersey eventually. It wouldn’t be the first one I would raise, that would be Alfredsson. But this is an organization that doesn’t have a long, deep history, and recognizing at least one face from the tough years would be a start to building that legacy. Redden was the face of the team for some time, before Alfredsson took that role. You could consider Alexei Yashin was once the face, but that was tarnished by selfishness and short-sightedness.
If it was a storied, original 6 franchise it might not be considered, but for a young team like the Senators, getting Alfredsson and Redden’s banners to the rafters can only be a good thing.
Imagine the ceremony where Bobby Ryan whips off the #6 on his back and presents it to Redden a la Bourque-Esposito, revealing a different number (9, 66, 69?) on his back.