Once he was able to free himself from hockey purgatory, there wasn't much left in Wade Redden's tank.
A year after the long-time defenseman was finally bought out by the New York Rangers and free to play at the NHL level once again, he has hung up his skates at the age of 36.
Via the NHLPA:
“I would first and foremost like to thank my family and friends for their unconditional love and support. I would also like to thank my teammates, coaches and staff for all the great memories created throughout the years. To the fans, I appreciate all your support throughout my career,” said Redden. “Playing in the National Hockey League has been a dream come true and I feel very proud and privileged to have played more than 1,000 games in 14 NHL seasons.”
Redden spent 14 years in the NHL with the Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins. He played 1,023 games, scoring 109 and recording 457 points. He won two gold medals at the World Junior Championships; a gold at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and was Olympian in 2006 with Team Canada. A pretty decorated career.
After being the no. 2 overall pick at the 1996 Draft by the New York Islanders, Redden spent the first 11 seasons of his career with the Ottawa Senators. A couple failed trade attempts later by GM Bryan Murray, Redden left for greener pastures in 2008 with a six-year, $39 million contract with the Rangers.
That's where things went downhill and the second chapter of Redden's career would become a lasting memory for some.
His first year in New York saw Redden put up his lowest point total (26) since his second year in the NHL, along with one of his lowest minutes per game average of his career (22:20 TOI). Rangers GM Glen Sather was quickly regretting the pricey investment.
After a second year of decline, Redden was placed on waivers and sent to Hartford of the AHL where he would spend the next two seasons.
"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," Redden told The Score in 2013. "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."
But Redden didn't complain on his way down to the AHL. He instead became a mentor to the younger players on the Wolf Pack as he waited for another chance to get back to the NHL.
"I went down to Hartford and had a positive experience there," he told Puck Daddy during last spring's Stanley Cup Final. "I enjoyed the game down there, even though it was a tough situation. Once I got over that, I tried to approach the game the way I always have. And that's the way I've got to keep doing it."
With a new NHL collective bargaining agreement that allowed teams a window last January to buy out players with no salary cap repercussion, Redden was freed from his minor league hockey shackles before signing a one-year deal with the St. Louis Blues. Later dealt to the Boston Bruins, he played just five playoff games as they marched to the Final.
He didn't play in any of the six games against the Chicago Blackhawks. Instead, Redden was another veteran inside an experience Bruins dressing room, providing extra depth on a blueline that featured youngsters like Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug.
It was a familiar role for Redden and a second opportunity to win a Stanley Cup, one he didn't want to take for granted knowing time was running out on his career. "Not everyone even gets a chance to be here, so you want to make the most of it," he said.
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