Many people for many reasons were in a euphoric state of mind when Boston Bruins defenceman Andrew Ference tweeted a thumbs-up emoticon in the early morning hours of Jan. 6 to signify the end of a four-month NHL lockout.
New Bruins blue-liner Wade Redden was one of them. He had heard and read about the speculation that teams would be allowed an amnesty buyout prior to the start of the season.
He knew there would be a good chance he would be set free by the New York Rangers, who had buried him in the American Hockey League for two years because they no longer could live with his six-year $39-million US contract that didn't expire until the end of the 2013-14 season.
Redden was picked up by the St. Louis Blues. But after deals before the trade deadline brought in Jordan Leopold and Jay Bouwmeester, there no longer was room at the inn for Redden, so he was shipped to the Bruins.
In a month in his new home, he has gone from depth player to a key component in the Bruins' series-opening 4-1 victory at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs. His goal and assist late in the first period was a momentum changer that sent the Bruins on their way on Wednesday.
"Yeah, it was fun to be back out there. I said before I'm going to try to get the most out of it. I've been away for a while, so it was good to get back in there," said the 35-year-old Redden, who was performing in his first Stanley Cup playoff game in four years and scored his first NHL post-season goal since May 28, 2007.
"It's a win. That's what it really boils down to. It's one win in a series. I'm not getting too nostalgic on things. Obviously, it's just one game, so you got to keep with it."
Even though he sat on the sidelines for the first six games with the Bruins before he played a shift for his new team, Redden knew immediately he found a good home. There were a couple of former Ottawa Senators teammates in Zdeno Chara and Chris Kelly on the Bruins. General manager Peter Chiarelli knew him from his days as part of the Senators management team.
The Wade Redden story is about a talented hockey player who is one of the nicest athletes you will meet. Those who come in contact with the quiet, kind native of Lloydminster, Sask. always come away impressed with his easy-going demeanour.
Nobody wanted to see him banished to the minors like Redden was for the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. He only was a few years removed from helping the Senators to the 2007 Stanley Cup final.
In 2005-06, Redden especially earned respect. He battled a knee injury and was there for his cancer-stricken mother, Pat, who passed away in April 2006. Yet, he somehow managed to check in with a career-high 50 points in 65 games.
Wednesday's evening's success was simply another nice chapter in Redden's comeback story. While still with the Blues he became the 282nd player to suit up for his 1,000th NHL game.
After the regular season finale last Sunday, his former Ottawa teammates Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Phillips and Chris Neil, along with Kelly, presented him with a Tony Harris painting of Redden dressed in the uniforms of the Senators, Rangers and Blues.
The gesture exhibited how well-liked Redden is, even though he's five years removed from the Senators scene. In five weeks with the Bruins, he already has plenty of admirers.
"He's very well respected," said Ference, who was suspended for Game 2 because of his head shot on Toronto's Mikhail Grabovski. "Guys were really happy for him to get back in the NHL with St. Louis, and to have an opportunity now to contribute.
"I think guys are really proud and happy that he's here. He's a great player and went through a couple of years that were very, very frustrating. So it's extra special to see him have a smile on his face. He's a really good teammate, and it's more than just us who are happy for him."
Maple Leafs update
Maple Leafs defencemen Cody Franson has a bruised foot, but said he'll be ready to suit up for Game 2 on Saturday (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET). Rookie blue-liner Mike Kostka has a fractured right index finger and won't play Saturday.
Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle hinted that defencemen Ryan O'Byrne and Jake Gardiner could both find their way back into the Maple Leafs lineup for Game 2. There also could be some changes up front. Forwards Matt Frattin, Joe Colborne and Ryan Hamilton were among the healthy scratches for the series opener.
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