“Sun”day Piece Answering Brennan’s Question

Don Brennan asked a question in this morning’s paper that bears an answer. Don wrote, Why, exactly, are people booing Redden?

Well, I’ll step up and answer that considering that I’m the guy who regularly ran a feature called How to Lose a Wade in 10 Days. I’m the guy who ripped Ross McKeon for writing a piece that chose Redden as his Ottawa Senators representative for the 2008 All-Star Game.

The media praise of #6 makes me want to vomit. Read this Yahoo! column by Ross McKeon which says the Sen who should be going to the All-Star game is #6. Initially upon reading this article, I laughed at the ignorance of simply pointing to No-Trade’s numbers. But upon deep thought, McKeon is definitely onto something. Who’s game is better suited to the Mid-Season-Classic? Not only is defensive coverage blown, there’s an unwritten rule that body contact is frowned upon.

I even once rewrote the lyrics to Edwin Starr’s War to,

Wade, huh, sucks!
What is he good for?
Absolutely nothing
Wade, huh, sucks!
What is he good for
Absolutely nothing
Say it again, y’all
Wade, huh, good God
What is he good for?
Absolutely nothing
Listen to me
Ohhh, Wade, I despise
Because he means destruction
Of Stanley Cup dreams
Wade means tears
To thousands of Sens fans’ eyes
When their Sens go to fight
And lose their minds
I said, Wade, huh
Good God, y’all
What is he good for?
Absolutely nothing
Say it again
Wade, huh Good God y’all
What is he good for
Stand up and shout it

People are booing Wade Redden because on two occasions, his General Manager, Bryan Murray, approached him about the possibility of waiving his NTC. The first was during the 2007 offseason when Redden was asked whether or not he’d waive his clause to go to Edmonton. The second occurrence came in February of 2008 as the the trade deadline was approaching. Now remember, after starting the season on a 15-2 tear, Ottawa’s season was going down the tubes and the team was at risk of falling out of the playoff picture.

Here are some of the exact details, courtesy of James Gordon from Hockey Capital,

One day after news leaked out that Redden had refused to waive his no-trade clause for a deal that would have sent him to the San Jose Sharks, the much-maligned defenceman reiterated his desire to stay and win the Stanley Cup in the nation’s capital.

“It’s been my desire for 12 years so it’s not going to change overnight,” Redden told a throng of reporters crowded around his locker-room stall. “We’re coming down the stretch here, it’s obviously exciting to get going to that and get our team going. That’s really where my focus is now.”

Asked point-blank if there were any circumstances that could convince him to change his mind, he said no.

“Like I said, I obviously have a lot of faith in the guys in this room and what we’re setting out to do and I’m part of that,” he said. “So I’m looking forward to that challenge.”

This is the second time the team has tried to unload Redden and the second time he has applied the brakes (a deal was in place this summer to ship him to Edmonton). As expected, his actions have ignited many heated debates among fans.

Many have suggested the struggling blueliner should take a hint and accept his ticket out of town, while others argue the team’s now-public efforts to oust such a respected, long-standing player are abhorrent.

For his part, Redden said he didn’t take the repeated waiver requests personally.

“No I don’t. I know what I can do and what I mean to the team and what I’m capable of and I’m going to set out and do my best and that’s all I can do. I know I’ve been with a lot of the guys in this room for a long time.”

Isn’t it conceivable that Bryan Murray had his thumb on the pulse of this team and viewed a struggling Redden, who had an expiring contract, as deadweight for the organization? So, if rumour has it that Wade was involved in a one-for-one deal for Marleau or the less publicized three-way trade involving Jeff Carter, Marleau and Redden…shouldn’t fans be upset that Wade wouldn’t do what was in the best interests of the organization?

Granted, he was a veteran who had spent his entire career with this organization and he deserves to be commended for his role in the local community. And he can’t be lauded enough for the thankless hours and money that he invested here to help the less fortunate. Similarly, John Muckler gave him a NTC and he had every right to invoke it.  BUT….

Redden, who is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, feels the Senators present the best opportunity for him to win the Stanley Cup. ~ TSN

In other words, Wade was either really naive or he was a giant prick. At the time, it was obvious to anyone who had watched this team (Ed. note: Apparently this didn’t apply to Glen Sather or the Rangers’ NHL scouts) that Redden’s play was regressing at an extraordinary rate. I think that part of the problem was that he never took his offseason strength and conditioning levels that seriously and it was an issue that plagued him with the Rangers and was something that John Tortorella addressed this year,

“I think he came into camp in good shape, that’s something he and I talked about last year,” Tortorella said. “He had a lot of things going on prior to last year. For me judging him, coming in at the point I did last year, I don’t think he was in shape. I think he came into camp in shape. He’s been harder. To be hard, you have to have a mental frame of mind. He’s been harder on the puck. I think he’s been more consistent in closing people out quicker. He’s been good. He’s been solid.”

With Redden, I always saw a player who simply got by on natural talent. For me, it became frustrating to watch a player who didn’t play a physical style deteriorate while he should have still been in his prime.

It didn’t help matters that during his last season in Ottawa, under John Paddock’s watch, I saw a Senators squad that I didn’t have a slew of confidence in. Between the rampant drug rumours and lacklustre play, I was completely open to the suggestion of change. Things were so bad here that by the time Bryan Murray had fired Paddock and returned behind the bench, I was still a bit skeptical that this team could improve their play simply flicking the switch.

And flick the switch they didn’t. Here’s what I wrote after Wade had played his last game in Ottawa,

Considering my disdain for Wade, I couldn’t have envisioned a more fitting way to end his tenure with the Sens. With a minute left in game four against the Pens and with Gerber on the bench for an extra skater, Wade panicked while trying to keep the puck in at the Pens blueline. Instead of throwing the puck into the corner on his forehand, Wade sent an errant, fluttering backhand pass into the slot where it was gloved down, taken the length of the ice and deposited into the Sens’ yawning cage. Not only was Redden’s gaffe the perfect ending to a remarkable second half collapse by the Sens, it also added insult to injury.

Within this past year, Wade has publicly vetoed two potential deals to two different Western Conference teams. The latest instance occurred shortly before the Sens dealt Eaves and Corvo to the Hurricanes for Commodore and Stillman. When the media went to Wade to ask him why he refused to discuss any potential trades, Wade responded by saying that he felt compelled to stay here because he thought he had a better opportunity to win a Stanley Cup in Ottawa. Is it fair to think that Redden was naive enough to think that he could win a Stanley Cup here for his swan song? Not only did our team win only 18 of the final 48 games, Ottawa got bounced from the first round of the playoffs by losing four straight games to Pittsburgh.

An aside, because of the level of success that the Senators achieved with their ’07 Cup Finals appearance, I never understood why people used that roster as a barometer for future success. The best Senators teams in recent memory were the two that lost to the Devils in Game 7 of the ’03 Conference Finals and the ’06 team that had their year lost when Hasek injured his adductor at the Turin Olympics.

I digress, when it was publicly leaked that Bryan Murray had approached Wade about accepting a trade, I was bitter.  Management saw an opportunity to get better either in the interim or in the future by moving an unrestricted player who was never going to resign here anyways. Besides, though you can’t prove it, I’ve always believed that part of the reason why Redden never waived his NTC was because he was part of the NHLPA executive and it’d set a bad standard if he’d waive a clause that the PA had fought for during labour negotiations.

I’ve always been one of the fans who cheers for the crest on the front of the jersey. I’ll boo Redden because he didn’t do what was in the best interests of the organization. Management didn’t want him and he wouldn’t waive his NTC and allow the Senators to expedite their growth. Besides, booing people is fun.