Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada
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Hockey DayWade Redden thankful for his hockey start in Lloydminster

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014 | 01:00 PM

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Wade Redden finished his 14-season NHL career with the Boston Bruins during their run to the Stanley Cup final last spring. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images) Wade Redden finished his 14-season NHL career with the Boston Bruins during their run to the Stanley Cup final last spring. (Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

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As he deliberated over whether or not to retire in the past few weeks, defenceman Wade Redden had plenty of time to reminisce about his entire career from his early days in Lloydminster to his near Stanley Cup championship with the Boston Bruins last spring.
Hockey's twists and turns were not kind to Wade Redden late in his career, but the timing of his retirement last week was a perfect prelude to the Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada festivities in Lloydminster this week.

Redden is the most accomplished hockey player from the area around Lloydminster, the city that straddles the Alberta and Saskatchewan borders. After 14 NHL seasons, a combined 1,129 regular-season and Stanley Cup playoff games, and 47 games wearing the Canadian maple leaf at two world juniors, three world championships, a World Cup of Hockey and the 2006 Olympics, Redden decided to call it a career.

As Redden deliberated on his decision he found the fun part was reminiscing about his career. He thought about his early days growing up in Hillmond, Sask., playing for the Lloydminster Blazers, the back-to-back world junior gold medals, the Olympics, the trip to the 2007 Stanley Cup final with the Ottawa Senators and last spring's near-championship odyssey with the Boston Bruins.

"I've been fortunate to play as long as I did," the 36-year-old Redden says. "I played on some good teams, including the Canadian world junior teams, the Olympics and some very good Senators teams.

"The things I will cherish are being around the guys. I had some great teammates. It's a great game and I feel fortunate to have been around it for as long as I was."

Redden recalls the importance and influence that veteran Randy Cunneyworth had when Redden was a rookie in Ottawa. Cunneyworth was the Senators' captain back then and Redden's roommate on the road.

He is also grateful for the guidance he received from his first two defence partners, Lance Pitlick and Jason York, as well as the close friendships he forged with long-time teammates Chris Phillips and Daniel Alfredsson.

"I grew up with those guys," Redden says. "They're like brothers to me."

Down on the farm

Plenty of former teammates, coaches at all levels and friends away from hockey reached out to Redden over the past week after hearing the news of his retirement.

A topic that often came up was his two-year demotion to the AHL with the Connecticut Whale after the New York Rangers decided they could no longer endure the impact of his contract on their salary cap.

"I wouldn't change the way things went," he says. "I went down there and learned a lot. I met some great people. I won't lie to you, it wasn't easy, but it was an experience I look back on fondly. I rediscovered my love for the game there."

Redden handled the assignment with class, as he did the death of his mother, Pat, who fought an inspired battle against cancer before passing away eight years ago.

Out of the game

After his two seasons in the AHL, Redden received a chance to return to the NHL following the 2012-13 lockout. He was signed by the St. Louis Blues and then traded to the Bruins in early April.

He played five games in Boston's first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, but then suffered an injury. By the time he recovered, there no longer was room for him in the lineup.

"Some guy named Torey Krug came in and lit it up and he's doing it again this season," Redden says with a chuckle. "I got a chance to play with a couple of my former teammates from the Senators [Zdeno Chara and Chris Kelly] with the Bruins. "It would have been a nice cap to the career, but it still was a lot of fun. It was a thrill."

Redden has left the door open to returning to the game one day in some capacity, but for now he's content to live in Kelowna, B.C., with his wife, Danica, and their young family.

"[Coaching has] crossed my mind," Redden says. "Playing the game my whole life, it's tough to step away. It's not in the cards in the immediate future. I have two young daughters and I'm going to step away. But I'm not ruling it out down the road."

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