Wade Redden Takes the Long and Winding Road to 1,000 Games

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by Puck

Hockey Correspondent and Occasional Shakespeare Character, White Cover Magazine

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On Thursday night, Community returns. Also, you only have one workday left — so, congratulations on the home stretch. It’s also the first Thursday in seven years without Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, et al. Cory Schneider starts in front of Roberto Luongo. Joe Flacco will or won’t be signed.

All of these run with more sudden importance than a truly fantastic story out there, which is that St. Louis’s Wade Redden will play his 1,000th NHL game.

Now, for the many who have hit that mark, it’s a pretty standard accomplishment. Really, as amazing as it is for us commoners, it’s just kind of a waiting game for most pros, and 282 of them have already done it.

Sure, you have to be healthy and you have to stick in the majors, but I can remember a lot of players who never really mattered to me who have hit that mark quite quietly. I’ve had to sit through that 25-minute opening and watch the dude get the silver stick and I’ve been looking at my watch the whole time, wondering if I can get in the face-off before I have to watch the news or eat broccoli, or anything else that would appeal more to me than watching a journeyman in Dallas receive recognition.

But, Redden is somehow different. He’s made it here through hell and high water, which is shocking if you’d watched him in junior. It looked like he had everything laid out in front of him, like he wouldn’t even had to work with the talent he had.

It’s shocking if you watched him early on in Ottawa. It’s shocking if you were there when the Senators kept him over Zdeno Chara, or if you remember the day he signed that $A Lot / Many Years contract with the New York Rangers.

Guys with Redden’s pedigree should have knocked 1,000 games out like it was nothing.

But then, after two terrible seasons with the Rangers, Redden was dropped in 2010, and he became the highest-paid AHLer of all-time. Just a month ago, he was cut by the Rangers, and then re-signed by St. Louis for $800K. $800K.

It’s conceivable that there was once a time Redden wasn’t sure if he’d ever play in the NHL again. The magic was gone. The moment had passed. He was set to disappear into oblivion and nobody would have even remembered he was there.

“I was going to the rink every day to play hockey,” he told NHL.com. “I tried to approach it the same way. It’s still a pretty high level. The AHL has a lot of great players in it … I still had to play hard and work at things.

“There were times when things weren’t going my way and stuff like that, but you’ve got to battle through that.”

Forgive the passive aggressive tone. He’s Canadian. He’s been bred from birth to dumb down all his emotion to make it sound like a run-of-the-mill experience.

You can almost hear his relatives faking smiles when he tells them that at parties. It’s still a pretty high level. That’s what future dentists say after they’ve failed medical school.

Now — Thursday — Redden at least gets something to tack on his resume from an NHL career that once showed so much promise. It can still end with some, mind you. Redden’s having a fine season with the Blues.

The Rangers took away his NHL career, but nobody can take 1,000 games away from him now.