The Ottawa Senators could use a steady Wade Redden right now.
At his best, Redden was a solid power-play quarterback who often made the game look easy. Instead of the big hit or highlight-reel goal, number 6 used a simple stick check or quick easy play to get the job done.
His quick, crisp first pass and steady play in his own zone were among the league’s elite — skills that are often under-appreciated.
Redden kept things simple during 11 seasons in Ottawa where he helped lead the team to playoff appearances in each year.
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Drafted second overall by the New York Islanders in 1995, Redden was later shipped to Ottawa with goalie Damien Rhodes for fellow netminder Don Beaupre, centre Martin Straka and defenceman Bryan Berard.
Then along with Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Phillips, the trio formed the core of the Senators for a decade, from 1997 until Redden’s departure in 2008.
Redden had his best years in Ottawa, highlighted by an invitation to play for Canada’s men’s Olympic hockey team in 2006 and a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007.
He was also a member of Canada’s victorious World Cup of Hockey squad in 2004.
Big Apple's big bite
But when Redden left Ottawa for a six-year, $39-million contract with the New York Rangers, the Big Apple took a big bite out of him.
Redden’s contract was criticized from the day he signed it. After two uninspiring seasons, he and his fat paycheque were buried in the American Hockey League with the Connecticut Whale.
Redden wasn’t set free until this time last year when he was waived by the Rangers and later signed with the St. Louis Blues. After a trade-deadline deal, Redden finished his career with the Boston Bruins after again finishing runner-up in the Cup finals.
The increased criticism for Redden skyrocketed in 2006, when Senators GM John Muckler chose to sign him instead of teammate Zdeno Chara.
Even though the Senators reached the Stanley Cup finals the next season, many fans believe Muckler made the wrong choice.
While Redden’s production dropped after 2006, Chara’s worth jumped and he captained the Boston Bruins to a Stanley Cup in 2011.
Should No. 6 be retired?
For the first time in 20-plus seasons, the modern Ottawa Senators franchise now faces a debate on whether to retire a player’s number.
Of those retired Senators players, nobody has a track record like his and at this point, considering the big picture, he is the franchise's best defenceman.
But it’s a hard argument to make when you include active players. The 15-year career from the 35-year-old Phillips is comparable, not to mention Chara’s dominating four seasons in Ottawa, or the four-plus remarkable campaigns from smooth, high-scoring Swede Erik Karlsson.
Daniel Alfredsson’s number 11 is a sure bet for the rafters at the Canadian Tire Centre, but Redden’s number 6 will remain on the ice (It’s currently worn by Bobby Ryan).
Redden will live on as a key cog in this early franchise’s history, but a sudden drop in production will always have a lasting effect on his legacy.