Cross Checks: Wade Redden

Wade Redden hangs them up

January, 9, 2014
1/09/14
2:21
PM ET
From the official NHLPA release:

WADE REDDEN RETIRES FROM NHL AFTER 14 SEASONS
…Veteran of 1,023 games played recorded career plus-minus of +160

TORONTO (January 9, 2013) – After playing 14 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL), Wade Redden announced his retirement today.

Redden played a total of 1,023 games with four different NHL teams: the Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins. He amassed career totals of 109 goals, 348 assists and 457 points in the regular season, while appearing in 106 career playoff games, recording 49 points. Redden had a career plus/minus of plus-160 and he played in one All-Star Game (2002).

“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.”

Throughout his hockey career, Redden accumulated a great deal of international experience playing for Canada. In 2004, he played in the World Cup of Hockey, helping Canada win the Gold Medal, while in 2006 Redden played in the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. Twice he helped Canada win the Gold Medal at the World Junior Championships (1995, 1996). He also represented his country three times at the World Championship (1999, 2001, 2005). During the 2005 tournament, Canada earned a Silver Medal and Redden was named Best Defenceman of the Tournament by the Directorate.

Prior to reaching the NHL, Redden played three seasons of junior hockey for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League (WHL). He helped Brandon reach the Memorial Cup in 1995 and 1996, and he was chosen for the Memorial Cup All-Star Team (1996).

The native of Lloydminster, Saskatchewan was drafted in the first round, 2nd overall, by the New York Islanders in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, prior to being traded to the Ottawa Senators on January 23, 1996.

Redden played in all 82 games as a rookie with Ottawa in 1996-97, and he scored six goals, 24 assists and 30 points. On October 5, 1996, he scored his first career NHL goal in his first game, and later that season he recorded his first playoff point – an assist – on April 19, 1997. Redden was named an Assistant Captain of the Senators in October of 1999. In 2001-02, he scored 34 points and recorded a plus-minus of +22 and played in the 2002 NHL All-Star Game. In the 2002-03 season, Redden scored 45 points and averaged a career-high in ice-time (25:24).

In 2003-04, he set a career-high in goals (17), which tied for the most among all NHL defencemen, and he was selected to his second career NHL All-Star Game. In 2005-06, he recorded his personal best total in plus-minus (+35), which tied for the top mark in the entire league, and he set a career-high in points (50), assists (40) and game-winning goals (4). The 2006-07 season was a memorable one for Redden and the Senators as the team’s playoff run took them all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. During the regular season, he led the team in average ice-time (22:54), while in 20 playoff games he averaged 23:37 in ice-time and he topped all Senators defencemen in playoff points (10). In his final season in Ottawa, 2007-08, Redden played 80 games and recorded 38 points and a plus-minus of +11.

After playing the first 11 seasons of his NHL career in Ottawa, where he helped the Senators qualify for the playoffs each season, Redden signed with the New York Rangers as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2008.

He played 81 games in 2008-09 – his first season in New York – and he scored 26 points, averaged over 22 minutes in ice-time, while he also played in seven playoff games. In 2009-10, Redden played 75 games and recorded a plus-minus rating of +8. Following the two seasons that he played for the Rangers’ AHL affiliate in Connecticut, Redden returned to the NHL with the St. Louis Blues in 2012. He scored two goals, five points and he played 23 games in St. Louis, including his 1,000th game, before he was traded to Boston in April of 2013 where he played six regular season games and five playoff games.

Throughout his career, Redden was a valued, two-way defenceman. He was a strong contributor at both ends of the rink, as evidenced by his career averages of 0.446 points and 23:03 in ice-time per game, as well as a five-season stretch (2000-01 – 2005-06) when he recorded a plus-minus rating of +21 or better. His teams qualified for the playoffs in all but one season of his professional hockey career. He also made important contributions off the ice, through his work with the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the Ottawa Senators 65 Roses Sports Club.

Redden resides in Kelowna, British Columbia, with his wife Danica and their two children.
You could start one heck of a rec hockey team these days with the big names sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring.

Brenden Morrow, Simon Gagne, Ilya Bryzgalov, Jose Theodore, Mike Knuble, Carlo Colaiacovo, Wade Redden and the list goes on among the veteran free agents who remain unsigned.

And that’s not even counting those players who had to swallow their pride and accept camp tryouts, the likes of Tim Thomas, Hal Gill, Mason Raymond, Brad Boyes, Ian White et al.

All because of a unique offseason in which the salary cap maximum dropped from $70.2 million last season to $64.3 million this year, squeezing roster space tightly.

When the music stopped in early July, you didn't want to be a free agent still standing without a job.

"It’s a difficult market this summer, to say the least," Morrow told ESPN.com Friday.

"I think this year is a unique situation with the salary cap going down, no question," Gagne told ESPN.com Friday. "It’s affected a lot of players for sure."

I checked in with a few of them Friday for the latest:

(Ilya Bryzgalov, when reached by ESPN.com Friday, politely turned down the interview, saying he wanted to wait until after his situation was resolved before speaking with the media. No problem, I said.)

BRENDEN MORROW
It appears the former Dallas Stars captain might find a team sooner rather than later.

"Things are starting to happen now," he said on the line from Dallas. "I’ve got some things starting to evolve a little bit."

Morrow visited with a team Thursday.

"I’m thinking about another team visit as well," Morrow said while not divulging names. "I've actually got a few offers that I'm mulling over at the moment. It's a tough marketplace, they’re not the biggest offers or what I had been hoping for, but at this point I just want to get playing again. So I'm mulling over these offers."

Sounds like he'll think things through over the weekend and make a decision next week. It's clearly going to be a pretty big pay cut from the $4.1 million he earned last season with Dallas and Pittsburgh.

But at 34, I believe he’s got lots of hockey left. He oozes character. He played well after joining the Penguins last season before getting hurt. Nobody said anything at the time but he tried to play through a cracked knee cap last spring before sitting out some playoff games. Morrow’s concern is that some teams didn’t know that come July 5 when free agency opened.

"I get what teams are concerned about, I was plagued with some injuries a couple of years ago," said Morrow, a member of Canada’s 2010 Olympic gold medal team. "And nobody really knew in the playoffs what I was battling through."

Either way, it appears he might be willing to do a one-year deal over the next week or so and get on with it.

"I just want to get in and be a part of the process of building a team and getting started from training camp," said Morrow. "The timing isn’t perfect."

It's absolutely crazy Morrow is still sitting out there. Teams should be all over this guy. He can still provide a real positive impact both on and off the ice.

SIMON GAGNE
The winger is working out in his native Quebec City waiting for a shot.

"This is new for sure, I've never gone through this before," Gagne said from Quebec City. "It feels almost like a lockout in a way. I’m lucky that I’m able to work out every day with the Quebec Remparts, that’s been good."

Gagne was an 18-year-old NHL rookie and he wonders if teams forget he's not that old.

"I got into the NHL at an early age so maybe people think I’m older than I am but I’m only 33 and I feel great, I've got lots of hockey left in me," said Gagne. "The way last season ended with the Flyers, it went well, and it gave me some motivation to work out really hard this summer."

In fact, all indications seem to be that Gagne was headed back to the Flyers for this season -- or least that's the impression the veteran had after his exit meetings with the Flyers last season. Somewhere along the way, things didn't play out that way and that's clearly disappointing for the longtime Flyer.

My guess is, had he known in early July he wasn't ultimately going to be in Philly he might have looked elsewhere a bit more. So that’s unfortunate.

"I respect the Flyers organization, especially Mr. Snider and [team president] Peter Luukko. I’ll leave it at that," said Gagne.

This guy can still play, he’s a solid veteran with high hockey I.Q. He deserves another chance.

WADE REDDEN
It was nice to see Redden back in the NHL fold last season in St. Louis and Boston after his CBA-fueled banishment in the AHL the prior few seasons.

The trade to Boston from St. Louis seem to invigorate him; he looked good early in that first-round series against Toronto before getting hurt.

"I felt good there for sure. Boston was great," Redden said on the line from Kelowna, British Columbia, where he’s working out and living with his wife and kids.

"My plan is still to play," said Redden. "I'm just waiting. Hopefully something will happen where a team has a need and I know I’ll be ready to go. It's hard to predict, really, what's going to happen."

He saw all the players taking camp tryouts (PTOs) but didn’t feel that was for him.

"I didn’t think it was my best option. I just thought I’d stay here and skate every day, be ready for when a team calls," said Redden. "I think teams know how I can play."

Is Europe an option?

"I guess as days go by, you start to think about it a little," said Redden. "I'm still holding out for the NHL and I'll be patient. It's still early. I'll wait and see."

I still think there's got to be room on an NHL roster as a No. 6 or No. 7 D-man for a reliable, classy veteran like Redden, a guy who has been a popular teammate everywhere he's played.

MIKE KNUBLE
When I asked Knuble on Friday what he's been up to, he pointed out he's got hockey-playing sons who are 13 and 9.

"That’s what I've been doing," said Knuble, laughing.

The 41-year-old winger has taken a look at all the players on tryouts and the players still sitting at home, and sounds very much resigned to whatever fate awaits him.

"At the beginning of the summer I was probably 50-50 in terms of playing, but I've seen what's gone on and I'm pretty much in the process of moving on," Knuble said. "There's some pretty good players without jobs. I had a lot of fun last year with the Flyers and that might be the last kick at the can. That's not 100 percent, I'm not announcing my retirement yet, but it's how it looks right now. It would really have to be the right situation. I'm not sitting beside the phone, let's put it that way."

Based with his family in Grand Rapids, Mich., unless there's an offer from Chicago or Detroit, I'm guessing Knuble wouldn't be interested in anything else at this stage.

He won't be the only veteran squeezed out by the lowered salary cap this offseason. Just imagine had the NHLPA not pushed hard when the NHL tried to have it set even lower than $64.3 million for this season. The cap will go back up next summer and we shouldn't see this kind of situation again for the rest of this CBA.


The St. Louis Blues are a much better team on the back end after the acquisitions of Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold.

But they’re a little heavy in the numbers back there, as well, with nine defensemen on the roster. So you can expect the Blues to draw interest from teams looking to add a blueliner between now and Wednesday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.

The two obvious candidates who no doubt will draw the most interest are Kris Russell and Ian Cole, since both have been pushed down the totem pole given the acquisition of Leopold and Bouwmeester.

Cole, 24, was a first-round draft pick in 2007. He can’t be sent down without clearing waivers first, so the Blues would never want to attempt that. Either they’re going to keep him on the big club as a depth player, or they’ll deal him before Wednesday’s deadline if the offer is right.

Russell, 26, is a serviceable puck-moving type. He’s a restricted free agent after the season, as is Cole.

Blues veteran Wade Redden is the other blueliner pushed out of the top six with these additions, so he's another possibility in terms of a move. He’s done what’s been asked of him, but I'm not sure there would be as much interest in him.

The plan now is for the top pair to be Bouwmeester with Alex Pietrangelo and the second pair to be Leopold with Kevin Shattenkirk, followed by Barret Jackman with Roman Polak as a very solid third pairing.

A final note on the Bouwmeester deal: Kudos to Blues GM Doug Armstrong. Aside from the first-round pick, he didn’t give up a whole lot to Calgary (defenseman Mark Cundari and goaltender Reto Berra).

One Eastern Conference team source thought it was shocking that the Flames didn’t get an A-level or even a B-level prospect in the deal.

Obviously, what mattered most to Calgary, as with the Jarome Iginla deal, was the first-round pick.

The Blues, meanwhile, may not be done. If they can find what they’re looking for, I think a bottom-six forward with grit would turn the trick as their final addition.

And Detroit?

The Red Wings were in on Bouwmeester, but in the end they didn’t get him because they didn’t include a first-round pick, a source told ESPN.com.

Which, quite frankly, is a smart, smart, smart decision by Wings GM Ken Holland.

Yes, Bouwmeester is the top-four D-man the Wings have been craving all year, but Detroit is not in a position organizationally to be trading first-round picks. They moved a first-round pick last year for Kyle Quincey when they still had Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart on the team and felt they had a shot to really contend.

But now? Of course, they still like their team if they get healthy and make the playoffs, but this is an organization that needs to restock and use its own first-round picks to actually draft players.

They’ve been near the top of the standings for 20 years. It’s time to draft and develop again.

There is no way Holland could have ever justified moving a first-rounder to Calgary. What if the Wings miss the playoffs? Even if they had structured the deal as St. Louis did by deferring the first-rounder to 2014, who’s to say what Detroit is going to look like next season if they miss the playoffs this season? That pick could be even more dangerous to give to Calgary.

My belief is that Detroit’s final offer on Bouwmeester was a second-round pick and two prospects. And frankly, that’s as far as the Wings could have gone.

Coyotes available?

The Coyotes are taking calls on players, and two in particular who are generating interest are veterans Derek Morris and Raffi Torres.

Morris is a reliable, veteran defenseman who would help most contenders. He has another year left on his deal at a $2.75 million cap hit, so he’s not a rental, however.

He also has a limited no-trade clause; his camp submitted a list of eight teams before the season that he would allow a trade to.

I believe Detroit is among the eight teams on that list, and that could be intriguing after the Red Wings lost out on Bouwmeester.

Torres, a pending UFA, is the type of physical, gritty winger some playoff teams like to add at this time of year.

A third Coyotes name to throw in the mix is that of center Boyd Gordon. He’s another pending UFA -- the Coyotes have eight in total -- and an underrated player, in my estimation. He’s a perfect fit on the third or fourth line for a playoff team.


The St. Louis Blues are a much better team on the back end after the acquisitions of Jay Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold.

But they’re a little heavy in the numbers back there, as well, with nine defensemen on the roster. So you can expect the Blues to draw interest from teams looking to add a blueliner between now and Wednesday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline.

The two obvious candidates who no doubt will draw the most interest are Kris Russell and Ian Cole, since both have been pushed down the totem pole given the acquisition of Leopold and Bouwmeester.

Cole, 24, was a first-round draft pick in 2007. He can’t be sent down without clearing waivers first, so the Blues would never want to attempt that. Either they’re going to keep him on the big club as a depth player, or they’ll deal him before Wednesday’s deadline if the offer is right.

Russell, 26, is a serviceable puck-moving type. He’s a restricted free agent after the season, as is Cole.

Blues veteran Wade Redden is the other blueliner pushed out of the top six with these additions, so he's another possibility in terms of a move. He’s done what’s been asked of him, but I'm not sure there would be as much interest in him.

The plan now is for the top pair to be Bouwmeester with Alex Pietrangelo and the second pair to be Leopold with Kevin Shattenkirk, followed by Barret Jackman with Roman Polak as a very solid third pairing.

A final note on the Bouwmeester deal: Kudos to Blues GM Doug Armstrong. Aside from the first-round pick, he didn’t give up a whole lot to Calgary (defenseman Mark Cundari and goaltender Reto Berra).

One Eastern Conference team source thought it was shocking that the Flames didn’t get an A-level or even a B-level prospect in the deal.

Obviously, what mattered most to Calgary, as with the Jarome Iginla deal, was the first-round pick.

The Blues, meanwhile, may not be done. If they can find what they’re looking for, I think a bottom-six forward with grit would turn the trick as their final addition.

And Detroit?

The Red Wings were in on Bouwmeester, but in the end they didn’t get him because they didn’t include a first-round pick, a source told ESPN.com.

Which, quite frankly, is a smart, smart, smart decision by Wings GM Ken Holland.

Yes, Bouwmeester is the top-four D-man the Wings have been craving all year, but Detroit is not in a position organizationally to be trading first-round picks. They moved a first-round pick last year for Kyle Quincey when they still had Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Stuart on the team and felt they had a shot to really contend.

But now? Of course, they still like their team if they get healthy and make the playoffs, but this is an organization that needs to restock and use its own first-round picks to actually draft players.

They’ve been near the top of the standings for 20 years. It’s time to draft and develop again.

There is no way Holland could have ever justified moving a first-rounder to Calgary. What if the Wings miss the playoffs? Even if they had structured the deal as St. Louis did by deferring the first-rounder to 2014, who’s to say what Detroit is going to look like next season if they miss the playoffs this season? That pick could be even more dangerous to give to Calgary.

My belief is that Detroit’s final offer on Bouwmeester was a second-round pick and two prospects. And frankly, that’s as far as the Wings could have gone.

Jagr update

I told you yesterday about the internal debate in the Stars' front office about what to do with Jaromir Jagr, a potential UFA whom they’re either going to re-sign or trade.
What I’m told is that the Stars' front office had another meeting after their game Monday night to continue to deliberate about what they should do before the trade deadline, not just with Jagr but with other players, as well.

My sense is that the Stars should have an answer for Jagr at some point Tuesday.

Coyotes available?

The Coyotes are taking calls on players, and two in particular who are generating interest are veterans Derek Morris and Raffi Torres.

Morris is a reliable, veteran defenseman who would help most contenders. He has another year left on his deal at a $2.75 million cap hit, so he’s not a rental, however.

He also has a limited no-trade clause; his camp submitted a list of eight teams before the season that he would allow a trade to.

I believe Detroit is among the eight teams on that list, and that could be intriguing after the Red Wings lost out on Jay Bouwmeester.

Torres, a pending UFA, is the type of physical, gritty winger some playoff teams like to add at this time of year.

A third Coyotes name to throw in the mix is that of center Boyd Gordon. He’s another pending UFA -- the Coyotes have eight in total -- and an underrated player, in my estimation. He’s a perfect fit on the third or fourth line for a playoff team.
VANCOUVER -- There is a tendency to want to romanticize the return of defenseman Wade Redden from hockey oblivion to the NHL.

And why not?

Redden was buried in the American Hockey League by the New York Rangers the past two seasons when his level of play judged against his salary ($39 million over six years) made it more prudent for the Rangers to have him in Hartford where they continued to pay him but his salary did not count against the cap. Redden's stellar NHL career looked like it might go out with a whimper when the lockout ended in early January. A career that began in 1996-97 when he made the jump from major junior after being drafted out of Brandon of the Western Hockey League.

When the two sides agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement that included an option for teams to make two amnesty buyouts, it appeared as though the Rangers would put the 35-year-old former No. 2 overall draft pick on the shelf for the season, then buy him out of the final year of his contract next summer.

Wade Redden #6 of the St. Louis Blues
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesRedden suffered through five straight games where he was a minus player and saw his ice time and place on the Blues depth chart decline.
But a last-minute agreement between the NHL and the players’ union allowed for an immediate buyout that saw Redden, along with former Montreal Canadien Scott Gomez, paid off by their former employers before the start of the current 48-game schedule and both players became unrestricted free agents.

While Gomez signed in San Jose, Redden chose to join the St. Louis Blues and signed a one-year deal that could pay him $1 million with bonuses.

Those first hours and days presented a strange stew of stress and storybook as Redden had a short time to make a difficult decision about where was the best fit for he and his family, which includes two children under the age of three (two years and seven months).

As it turned out, there was also a fairytale element for the longtime Ottawa Senator.

He scored in both his second and third games and, at times, was played with the Blues emerging young defensive star Alex Pietrangelo.

But fairytale and reality are often strange bedfellows and, whether it was the emotion or the pace or a combination, Redden suffered through five straight games where he was a minus player and saw his ice time and place on the Blues depth chart decline.

He has been a healthy scratch the past two games, but on Saturday, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock told Redden that he would return to the lineup for a big matchup Sunday night against Northwest Division-leading Vancouver.

“I just don’t like to see veteran players stay out too long,” Hitchcock explained.

And he acknowledged that Redden was perhaps being asked to do too much too soon.

“I think he played those first few games on emotion,” the coach said.

But now Redden’s had an opportunity to get himself ready for another run at it, and the coaching staff will evaluate how this plays out.

“So let’s put him in and see what he’s got,” Hitchcock said.

His role?

Much of that will be determined by Redden himself.

“His role is just to be stable and smart,” Hitchcock said.

“The reality is he’s a solid player, but after being out [of the NHL] for so long he’s not a 20-minute plus player yet,” Hitchcock said.

Redden has been trying to be Zen about how this is all unfolding.

“I’m trying to take that approach,” he said after an optional workout at Rogers Arena Saturday.

He has taken the time away from game action the past few days to get his conditioning up and put the drama of the past few weeks behind him. At one point, he and his wife had about 20 people in town for his return to NHL action.

“It’s good to get all that behind me. I’m just focused from now on with playing the way I need to play,” Redden said. “I know my role isn’t what it used to be and I have to accept that.

“Now that I’m back to playing, it’s back to day in and day out and I have to come and be ready. It’s not like it’s coming to the rink and it’s a honeymoon every day.”

Redden, in spite of the chaos of the past few weeks, to say nothing of the past two years, is nothing if not a realist.

He confronted the uncomfortable prospect that he had perhaps played his final NHL game. Now that he's received a kind of reprieve, it’s up to him to put in the sweat equity to make sure this next chapter, however long that chapter extends, is written on his terms.

“At the end of the day, I wanted to get back to the NHL. I didn’t want to go out that way,” he acknowledged.

-- The Blackhawks ran their record to an NHL-best 6-0 with a hard-fought 2-1 overtime win over Detroit on Sunday. Corey Crawford continues to prove that he’s forgotten about last spring’s playoff disappointment with a .933 save percentage and 1.78 GAA. The Hawks continue to get balanced scoring with goals from two defensemen, Duncan Keith and Nick Leddy, to pace them.

-- Meanwhile, Patrick Marleau did not score two goals for the first time this season -- you knew he wasn’t going to score 96 goals, right? -- but he did add his league-leading ninth goal and added an assist as the Sharks beat another Western Conference power in Vancouver by a 4-1 count. The Sharks are 5-0-0 and have outscored opponents by a whopping 23-8 for a league-best plus-15 goal differential.

-- The weekend brought with it respite for the NHL’s last winless team, the Washington Capitals, as they defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Sunday afternoon. The Caps, now 1-3-1, got their first win thanks in part to the first goal of the season by captain Alex Ovechkin, who scored the game winner early in the third period to give the Caps a 3-1 lead. The Sabres, meanwhile, have seen a strong 2-0 start to the season evaporate into a three-game losing streak that has seen them outscored 12-6. Thomas Vanek did not play Sunday because of an injury, although it’s not believed to be serious.

-- Wade Redden -- remember him? -- scored for the second straight game for the St. Louis Blues as they topped Minnesota in a topsy-turvy affair that ended with Vladimir Sobotka scoring in overtime for a 5-4 Blues victory. St. Louis is off to a 5-1-0 start while the revamped Wild continue to look for consistency as they blew a 3-1 lead in this one and are 2-2-1 on the season as a result.

-- The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a two-game losing streak by beating the Ottawa Senators in a shootout 2-1 on Sunday. The Penguins, now 3-2-0, got a nice piece of work from Marc-Andre Fleury, who stopped 31 of 32 shots and then the Pens scored on all three shootout attempts against Craig Anderson. The Sens remain a pleasant surprise, though, with a 3-1-1 record. They have given up just nine goals in five games.

-- The Montreal Canadiens won their third straight game Sunday and in the process knocked the New Jersey Devils from the ranks of the undefeated. The Habs scored on the power play in overtime -- Andrei Markov delivering the knockout blow with his fourth of the season, most among defensemen -- to defeat the Devils 4-3. New Jersey had allowed just three goals while going 3-0-0 to start the season.

-- After winning two in a row to arrest a season-opening three-game losing streak, the Philadelphia Flyers came back to earth Sunday, dropping a 5-1 decision to Tampa. The loss came on the road 24 hours after Philadelphia crushed Florida 7-1 but also highlighted a potential problem for the Flyers as backup Michael Leighton earned his first start of the season and gave up five goals on 26 shots. It was Leighton’s first NHL action since the 2011 playoffs. The Lightning, meanwhile, won their third in a row and own a 4-1 record and top spot in the Southeast Division, having scored 24 goals in five games. Teddy Purcell led the way for the Lightning with a goal and two assists.

-- The Jets and the Islanders didn’t disappoint as Winnipeg won a 5-4 barn-burner in overtime in a game that featured five third-period goals. The Jets are a surprising 3-1-1 as Evander Kane scored the winner to give Winnipeg a three-game winning streak. John Tavares had a goal and two assists for the Isles, who are 2-2-1.

-- Other notable moments from the weekend? How about Anaheim’s shootout victory over Nashville that saw Daniel Winnik score his fifth of this young season and 30-year-old Viktor Fasth earn his first-ever NHL win in his first-ever NHL start? The Ducks are 3-1. And the Los Angeles Kings got in the "W" column Saturday with a 4-2 victory over the slumping Phoenix Coyotes.

It has been a week since the NHL returned from its self-imposed lockout exile. It’s far too early to draw lasting conclusions but certainly enough to gather initial impressions, now that we’re detailing power-play success over HRR and back-diving contract control.

Fan Faithfullness


So much for boycotts and fan apathy. The NHL reports that average per-game announced attendance is up 6.6 percent, or more than 1,000 fans per game, through the first 49 games of this season compared to the first 49 last season.

Not only have the fans come back with a vengeance, filling almost every NHL rink to capacity, but they’re watching on television in record numbers as well. NBC’s opening-weekend games (Chicago in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh in Philadelphia) were the most-watched regular-season games, outside the Winter Classics, in 14 years. Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Chicago reported record local ratings. NBC Sports Network’s offering of the Boston-New York Rangers tilt on Wednesday drew 956,000 viewers, the biggest single regular-season-game audience in the network’s history and the most-watched regular-season game on cable since 2002. An incredible 27 percent of the Canadian population tuned in to the Montreal-Toronto season opener. Boston, St. Louis, Minnesota, Dallas and Florida also reported significant spikes in viewership for their local broadcasts.

It’s not all roses and cherries, though. Phoenix drew an announced crowd of just 8,355 Wednesday night, and this for a team that went to the Western Conference finals last spring. While the Blue Jackets are clearly not a big draw in Denver, the Avs announced 14,325 Thursday night, well short of a sellout at the Pepsi Center. The Panthers and Blues were also short of sellouts in home games Thursday night.

A better indication of whether fans and sponsors are prepared to forgive and forget when it comes to the lockout will come in a month or two, especially if teams like Florida or Columbus or Carolina have fallen out of the playoff race. What will the numbers look like then? Maybe the short season will keep eyes on the game and butts in the arena seats in record numbers right through to the end. Maybe not.

Faltering Favorites


Not many would have predicted that the Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, Los Angeles Kings and Detroit Red Wings would start a combined 3-13-1. Throw in a 1-3 start for the Phoenix Coyotes, who won the Pacific Division last season and advanced to the Western Conference finals, and a 1-3 start for the defending Southeast Division champs from Florida, and you’ve got a lot of teams with high expectations and standards that are wallowing near the bottom of the standings. Worth noting is that the 1994-95 New Jersey Devils started 0-3-1 and went on to win the Cup during that 48-game, lockout-shortened season. Is there a similar rags-to-glory story among these slow starters? Maybe the better story is which of this group of well-heeled bottom-dwellers can turn things around enough to make it to the playoffs in late April. Our guess is no more than three.

Markov Is Back


Yes, the absence of unsigned restricted free-agent defenseman P.K. Subban has been a problem for the Canadiens, but the return to form of Andrei Markov and the emergence of young Swiss defender Raphael Diaz means Subban’s absence is felt less keenly. Before the start of the 2013 season, Markov had played in just 65 NHL regular-season games since 2009-10 because of a series of mostly knee-related injuries. But Markov has three goals and an assist while averaging 23:47 of ice time to help bolster a power play that must produce if the Canadiens are to make it back to the playoffs. Diaz has also been a revelation after a strong lockout spent playing with Damien Brunner and Henrik Zetterberg in Switzerland. He has five assists in three games for the Habs, who won two in a row after an opening-night loss to Toronto.

Injuries Hitting Hard


Everyone assumed injuries were going to be a major theme in a shortened season. But whether it's the compressed schedule (it actually just seems busier than a normal 82-game slate) or the lack of a training camp or the disparity between those who played during the lockout and those who didn’t, the injury bug has bitten and bitten hard. The Flyers are without Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell, and their defensive depth at the AHL level has been ravaged by injury. The Red Wings have been nicked up, testing their defensive depth. Steve Downie is gone for the season for the Avs. Joffrey Lupul suffered a broken forearm after being hit by a shot from Maple Leafs teammate Dion Phaneuf and will be gone for a couple of months. Mike Smith left the Coyotes’ net midway through the first period this week, although his injury isn’t believe to be serious. Still, don’t expect the bug to be stopping its bite anytime soon. With that in mind, look for the teams with the greatest organizational depth to rise above these injuries and stay in the hunt for playoff berths and/or top seeds.

Rookies On A Roll


Maybe it’s no surprise that a handful of youngsters are having an immediate impact in this young NHL season. Whether it’s Vladimir Tarasenko in St. Louis, who had four goals and six points to lead all rookies as of Friday, or Detroit's Brunner, who scored one of the prettiest shootout goals you’ll ever see, or Dougie Hamilton, who looks as if he has been patrolling the Boston blue line for years and not just days, the lockout has given way to a serious youth movement. Justin Schultz and Nail Yakupov in Edmonton, Cory Conacher in Tampa and Jonathan Huberdeau in Florida are other noteworthy first-year players making a name for themselves. Usually coaches and GMs worry about the final third of a normal season for rookies, the travel and the physicality of a full schedule often taking the bloom off the rookie rose by the last 25 or 30 games. But with a 48-game slate, these rookies might keep lighting it up from beginning to end.

Buyout Payoff


Good for the league and the players to get together and adjust the buyout process to allow Montreal and the Rangers to part company with unwanted players Scott Gomez and Wade Redden, respectively. We understand the logic that led to both teams initially planning to park both players for this season with the intent of buying them out next summer. Teams can’t buy out injured players, and it made more sense business-wise not to have them play. But there was something inherently wrong about it and the two sides agreed to alter the language and allow the Rangers and Habs to buy out those players. That has allowed Redden to resume his NHL career with the St. Louis Blues and Scott Gomez to sign a one-year deal with the San Jose Sharks. Both have much to prove, although wouldn’t that be an interesting storyline if either were to end up holding up the Stanley Cup in the spring? Bottom line, it was the right thing to do. If only the two sides had been able to summon up that spirit of cooperation last summer.

Sharks Have Bite


San Jose head coach Todd McLellan told us before the start of the season about the challenges of putting together a lineup with players who were at varying degrees of readiness, some having played extensively in Europe or the AHL, some having played a bit and others not at all. Whatever McLellan is doing, it’s working: The Sharks were one of two undefeated teams in the Western Conference through Thursday's games (Chicago was the other). Patrick Marleau, who did not play during the lockout, had three straight two-goal games to lead the league in goals; linemate Joe Thornton, who played in Switzerland during the labor impasse, leads the NHL with nine points. Will the Sharks, off the Stanley Cup radar for the first time in years, make skeptics pay with their first championship, regardless of who played where and how much during the lockout?

You Get The Power


It’s interesting to see which teams have been able to take advantage on the power play early on and how important it has been. The Blues and Sharks led the NHL with seven power-play goals each. The Blues were clicking at a shocking 53.8 percent rate while Chicago was third with six man-advantage goals. The three teams were a combined 10-1-0 to start the season. At the other end of the ladder, the Kings and Red Wings were the only teams without a power-play goal at week’s end. They were a combined 0-for-34 with a man advantage and had combined for a 1-4-1 record.

Blues sign D Wade Redden

January, 18, 2013
1/18/13
1:32
PM ET
From the Blues' official release.

Blues Agree to a Deal in Principal with Defenseman Wade Redden

ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced the club has reached a deal, in principal, with defenseman Wade Redden today. Terms of the contract are for one-year and $800,000.
“Wade is a solid two-way defenseman,” said Armstrong. “We believe his experience will complement and add stability to our defensive core.”
Redden, 35, has spent the past two seasons with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Connecticut Whale. Last year, he posted 20 points including four goals and 16 assists in 49 games. The 6’2, 205-pound defenseman is a veteran of 13 NHL seasons including 11 years in Ottawa and, most recently, two with the New York Rangers (2008-2010). Overall, Redden has appeared in 994 National Hockey League (NHL) games totaling 450 points (106 goals, 344 assists) and 654 penalty minutes. The Lloydminster, Saskatchewan native was originally drafted by the New York Islanders in the first round (2nd overall) of the 1995 Entry Draft.
Redden is scheduled to arrive in St. Louis this weekend and undergo a physical on Sunday.

# # #
The Vancouver Canucks insist they will be patient on the Roberto Luongo trade front, regardless of what anybody thinks.

They will not make a panic trade just for the sake of moving Luongo out of town. They aren’t moving him unless they get fair value for him.

"He’s an All-Star goalie,” veteran Canucks GM Mike Gillis told ESPN.com Monday. "It’s a completely media-driven notion that we have to do this quickly and it’s going to be a terrible situation [if Luongo starts the season in Vancouver]. It wasn’t a terrible situation last year and it won’t be this year if he’s here."

The fact that new No. 1 netminder Cory Schneider has a good relationship with Luongo certainly helps things. But for Luongo’s sake, you hope this deal gets done as soon as possible, although he’s been the utmost pro about it so far.

Toronto remains the most obvious destination, and while Gillis did not want to shed any more light on the Luongo situation Monday, another NHL source told ESPN.com that the Maple Leafs and Canucks have indeed touched based with each other since Brian Burke’s firing as GM last week.

But I don’t think too much has changed. I don’t believe new Leafs GM Dave Nonis wants to overpay, despite clearly having interest in Luongo -- a star netminder he brought to Vancouver in the first place when Nonis was the Canucks’ GM.

My understanding is that the Canucks’ asking price is an established NHL player plus a high-end prospect. In Toronto’s case, I believe that prospect is Nazem Kadri, and that’s a player I don’t think Toronto is willing to move at this point. That could change, of course.

But the reason Vancouver needs an NHL player as well in the deal is underlined by the injury to Ryan Kesler. The Canucks are thin right now at center. Whether it’s a guy like Tyler Bozak or another skater, Vancouver would need an established NHL body from the Leafs in any deal.

Toronto hasn’t given up on goalie James Reimer, either. I think the Maple Leafs want to see how he does out of the gates before deciding whether or not they need to make a goalie move. The risk in that, at least from the Luongo point of view, is that perhaps other NHL teams ramp up their interest in Luongo either because of injury or poor play from their goalie.

And by the way, whichever team gets Luongo is getting a netminder that remains among the top 10 elite netminders in the NHL, in my mind. And he’ll be a motivated one, too.

Gomez, Redden sent home

In the wake of Montreal’s announcement Sunday that Scott Gomez was sent home to await a summer buyout, the NHL Players’ Association reached out to the NHL to discuss the situation on Monday. In fact, both sides spoke a few times about it.

It doesn’t sit too well with the players’ union given that Gomez is unable to ply his trade. But because the Habs will continue to pay Gomez his full salary, there’s really nothing technically wrong, and certainly the NHL’s position is that rookie Montreal GM Marc Bergevin did nothing wrong here.

It’s the same situation in New York, where Wade Redden remains in limbo. Both the Rangers and Canadiens plan to use a compliance buyout this summer (which doesn’t count against the salary cap) to get out of those respective contracts -- but the new CBA states that those compliance buyouts can’t be used until June, at the earliest. Thing is, neither the Habs nor Rangers want to jeopardize that opportunity to get the cap savings by having the player get injured this season and thus not qualify for the compliance buyout if the player is still hurt come June.

From the NHLPA’s perspective, while both players are getting paid, not playing this season would hurt their future job prospects, and it’s hard to argue that.

What needs to happen here is common sense. I’m hoping the NHL and NHLPA come to some sort of side agreement that deals specifically with Gomez and Redden that allow each player to continue their NHL careers but still allow the Habs and Rangers to get out of their cap issue with both players next season. We shall see what comes out of this.

The Rangers, by the way, have worked hand in hand with Redden’s camp (agent Don Meehan) to try to solve this for weeks. So there’s no bad blood there at all. Just two sides trying to find a good and fair solution.

Wade Redden dragged into lockout

September, 27, 2012
9/27/12
4:15
PM ET
Wade ReddenChristopher Pasatieri/Getty Images"I definitely have a sour taste in my mouth from how things went in New York," Wade Redden said.


At this point, Wade Redden has pretty much seen it all.

Redden is locked out just like 700-odd other NHLers and facing nary a paycheck until the labor impasse is resolved.

Except that, well, Redden hasn’t played in the NHL in 2½ years.

Talk about adding insult to injury. If it didn't hurt his pride enough to be turfed in the AHL for two seasons, his contract too heavy for the New York Rangers to move, now he’s been dragged into a lockout involving a league he hasn’t sniffed since his last NHL game in April 2010.

Not sure there’s a more unique story in this lockout at this point.

"It is a pretty rare case, I guess," Redden told ESPN.com Thursday from Kelowna, B.C., his offseason home. "My mindset now is that hopefully it’s written into the new CBA where stuff like that won’t happen or make it harder to happen so you get a guy, like, out of that situation."

The "situation" he’s referring to is that he was stuck in Hartford of the AHL the past two seasons without any real options, a victim of the system. The Rangers didn't want to count his $6.5 million against the salary cap after he struggled in the first two years of his six-year, $39 million contract. He has two years left on that deal, which was supposed to pay him $5 million this season and $5 million in 2013-14. But the Rangers, well within their rights, didn’t assign him to the AHL this season and therefore won’t have to pay him his $5 million salary during the lockout.

The Rangers were never able to move that contract under the restricted nature of the expired CBA, because when a trade was made teams couldn’t split the cost of a player's remaining salary. In other pro sports, like baseball, splitting salary helps facilitate moving players (like the Yankees paying some of pitcher A.J. Burnett’s salary this year after the trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates).

In the future, Redden hopes a player in his situation might have a way out if there are more contract options for an NHL team.

Redden says the NHLPA has been terrific in keeping him informed on matters. Time will tell on the CBA front whether his type of situation is addressed, but in the meantime, Redden is working out and skating every day in Kelowna.

Because he played in the AHL last season, Redden could sign an AHL deal just for the duration of the NHL lockout since the AHL added that criteria for players affected by the NHL lockout who played in the AHL last year.

However, the risk for Redden is that if he got injured while playing under that new AHL contract, he’d risk exposing himself to a suspension without pay from the Rangers once the lockout ended if he was unfit to play. It’s a risk every NHLer who goes to Europe is taking.

So for now, Redden is biding his time, while hoping that the new CBA will bring with it some kind of buyout or amnesty clause that will allow him to leave the Rangers.

"I don’t know, I guess we’ll see, but I’m 35 now and I want to get back in the league and show what I can do," Redden said.

The former All-Star in Ottawa would be an excellent buy-low candidate if he does become an NHL free agent. He’s got a chip on his shoulder and he’s hungry to prove he can still play in the NHL.

"I definitely have a sour taste in my mouth from how things went in New York," said Redden.

"With that said, I went to Hartford and my time there was positive. I don’t regret that. They treated me great there. But everyone wants to be in the NHL. That’s where I was for a long time and that’s where I want to get back."

Named captain of the Whale last March, Redden is a character guy and, for NHL teams looking to upgrade in that department, he’d fit right in.

The last two years have been taxing, but he’s come out of it a stronger person.

"I’m in a pretty good place right now. I’ve had a really good summer in terms of working out and I’m going to keep that up through the lockout," he said.

"I can’t complain; since I got sent down, I got two daughters, and everyone is healthy and happy. So there’s nothing really to be too upset about."

Weekend wrap: Redden, Savard, more

September, 26, 2010
9/26/10
12:02
AM ET

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The NHL's head office may soon add another former big-name player to its ranks.

Having already brought in Brendan Shanahan last year as the league's vice president of hockey and business affairs, two sources have told ESPN.com that Rob Blake could be next.

Blake, who retired this past summer after a star-studded career, is slated to meet with league officials this upcoming week to see if there's a fit for him. The idea is he would work alongside Shanahan, although remain based in Southern California.

Blake told ESPN.com during this past postseason that he wanted to remain involved in hockey after his playing career was over. He's always been one of the brighter minds in the game, taking an active role in NHL Players' Association affairs and being an original member of the competition committee after the lockout. Colin Campbell, the NHL's executive vice president and director of hockey operations, has spoke highly of Blake for his competition committee work.

Blake's relationships with Campbell and Shanahan are key factors in the league's interest in him.

Theodore in Minny?
With Josh Harding likely out for the season with a serious knee injury, a source told ESPN.com on Saturday that the Minnesota Wild are looking at unrestricted free-agent netminder Jose Theodore as a possible replacement for the backup netminder. It doesn't mean the Wild will end up signing him, but a source confirmed they were looking at the veteran Theodore.

Redden update
Talk about the high and lows of life these days for Wade Redden.

On the one hand, he just welcomed his first child into the world this past week, a baby girl. Then, on Saturday morning, he finds out from New York Rangers GM Glen Sather that he's been put on waivers, which will pave the way for his eventual demotion to the AHL. The Rangers want to erase the defenseman's $6.5 million cap hit.

"There's a lot of stuff going through my head right now," Redden told ESPN.com on Saturday.

He said the birth of his child outweighs anything else.

"That kind of takes precedence over everything," Redden said. "We just got home yesterday from the hospital. Everyone is doing well."

Redden's waiver period ends Monday at noon ET. Then, if he clears waivers, the cap-challenged Rangers will at some point officially send him to Hartford of the AHL. It is then up to Redden to report if he wants to protect the four years and $23 million left on his contract.

"I really don't have any conclusions right now," Redden said. "I got to take this time and see what develops. But at this point, I don't have any answers for you. We'll see what happens. I haven't made any decisions yet. I have some time to think about it."

He's not shocked it has happened since it's been rumored all summer long, but he wished he could have played at least one preseason game. The next logical step is to resume his career in Hartford and see where that takes him.

"Hopefully I can get somewhere where I can play and enjoy the game again," Redden said.

Redden is a classy guy; hopefully this all works out for him.

Savard update
Marc Savard cleared the air on his situation after meeting with local media in Boston on Saturday.

Apart from confirming he's been grounded by post-concussion syndrome, he also revealed to reporters that one of the most prevailing symptoms in his battle was depression. That's common for players recovering from post-concussion syndrome.

"I talked to him today, he's getting better," Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told ESPN.com on Saturday. "I'm not a doctor, but in talking to him and having seen him the week before and a week and half before that, he's getting better."

But he's not skating right now, and that's not going to happen soon.

"He'll have to go through normal protocol and pass all the tests, and once he's through that, we'll bring him along slowly," Chiarelli said. "He may be a month, a month and a half from officially getting on the ice. It could be two months, I don't know. It's tough to tell."

This and that
• Marek Svatos, unable to land an NHL job this summer, was in his native Slovakia on Saturday, arranging for a Russian visa after agreeing to join Omsk of the KHL on Friday.

• The Ducks have tried Bobby Ryan at center during camp/preseason, and if they like what they see, that'll stick with it and make Saku Koivu their third-line center. Having Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan and Koivu as your 1-2-3 punch at center certainly wouldn't be too shabby. Ryan played center with Teemu Selanne on his right wing Saturday night in Vancouver.

• Speaking of the Ducks, word is they covet Canucks blueliner Kevin Bieksa; but, for the time being, with Sami Salo injured long-term, Vancouver isn't in a hurry to move a defenseman.

SPONSORED HEADLINES