|RANGERS ON DEMAND
|Redden on His Transition to Rangers ||Watch |
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
After a summer of sweeping change, both in his personal and professional life, Wade Redden
is excited for the 2008-09 NHL season to get underway.
|Ironically, Wade Redden might get his first taste of hockey in a Rangers uniform tonight in the same Ottawa Senators arena he played in for many years. |
The 31 year-old defenseman, considered one of the most attractive players on the free-agent market this past summer, first decided to leave his long-time team, the Ottawa Senators, and sign with the New York Rangers on July 1.
Later in the summer, Redden married his girlfriend of several years, Danica, in a picturesque setting in British Columbia. And finally, he arrived in New York to find a place to live in the city, and to get to know a new group of teammates.
It could be enough to make anyone’s head spin, even one who exudes the calm that Redden does.
“There certainly has been a lot of change for me this summer,” said Redden. “But it’s good change, and exciting change. It’s been a very special time in my life.”
The 6-foot-2, 209 pound Redden spent the first 11 seasons of his National Hockey League career playing for the Senators. He was acquired by Ottawa from the Islanders, who had selected him second overall in the 1995 entry draft, in a January 1996 trade for fellow defenseman Bryan Berard. Redden made his NHL debut for the Senators the following fall, playing in all 82 games as a rookie for Ottawa during the 1996-97 campaign.
All told, Redden appeared in 838 regular season games for the Senators, posting 101-309-410 scoring totals and an impressive plus-159 rating. Solid and confident in his own end, and smooth as the power-play quarterback, Redden arrives on Broadway in the prime years of his career.
“Obviously I want to impress and give my best, and come in and get off to a good start here in a new place,” says Redden. “I am excited and am ready to get rolling.”
Many teams were interested in securing Redden’s services once he became a free agent this summer, but there was a long list of reasons why he decided to bring his game to the Rangers.
“I like where the team is going, as well as the great group of guys they’ve got,” said Redden, who has also played for the Canadian Olympic Team during the 2006 Winter Olympics. “The organization as a whole, I think, is one of the tops in the league. Not to mention that coming to New York has always been exciting to me. Coming into MSG, there’s lots of energy in the building and the city. I think it’s going to be great to be a part of that.”
After playing for an Ottawa team that was swept in the first round of the playoffs last spring, Redden is hoping to help lead his new team much further in this year’s post-season, just as he did in 2007 with Ottawa. That spring the Senators advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, before losing in five games to the Anaheim Ducks, falling three wins shy of the ultimate goal.
Redden, who recorded a goal and an assist in his first Finals series, believes that he knows how the Rangers will be able to have a solid regular season, as well as a long run in the playoffs this season.
“Everyone has to be committed to the defensive game,” he saud. “We have enough skill that when we get our chances, we’ll be able to score goals. But everyone has to be good on defense. And I think we’ll be a hard-working team, which is a must. We have good, character guys that way.”
And Redden believes that the Rangers have a special edge on other contenders, one that could play a major role in making a long playoff run.
“With Henrik (Lundqvist) leading the way on the back end, we’ll have great confidence from knowing that he is so solid back there (in goal),” said Redden.
As Redden still gets to know his new teammates and becomes more familiar with his new surroundings, he sees a great opportunity on the horizon, not only for himself, but for the entire team.
“The trip overseas will be good for gathering everyone together and building the camaraderie,” says Redden of the Rangers’ trip to Switzerland for two preseason games and the Czech Republic for their first two games of the 2008-09 season. “With so many new guys on the team, we have to find our identity as a team. This is an exciting time and opportunity for all of us.”
As for his own situation, Redden concludes, “This is a fresh start for me. I’ve only known Ottawa for 11 or 12 years, so it’s exciting to come here. I want to have a good start to the year, a good start as a Ranger.”