(HockeyStL) -- When the lockout ended, Blues general manager Doug Armstrong began searching for more defensive depth, which is one area of concern for the Blues this season. The Blues weren’t comfortable with their organization’s defensive makeup, and fearing injuries could cause a problem in a 48-game season, they further added to their defense last week with the signing of veteran defenseman Wade Redden.
Redden, 35, was released by the New York Rangers last week. The Blues decided to give Redden a chance, in hopes that he can guide the young Blues’ defense, and contribute when the main blue liners need rest. Redden is now the oldest defenseman on the team, and is one of only two Blues’ defensemen over the age of 30. He says he can still contribute at the NHL level.
“I feel like I have something to give for sure,” said Redden. “I’m looking forward to getting my feet wet and showing that. It’s been a little while since I have been in this league, but looking at the guys they have on the back-end, it is going to be good for me to come in and support that.”
Redden has spent the last two season in the American Hockey League after the Rangers sent him to the minors in 2010 to avoid using any cap space on a players whose play had declined. He last made an NHL appearance in the 2009-10 season, in which he played 75 games and accumulated 14 points (two goals, 12 assists). Redden always thought that he would be back in the AHL, but knew his best chance would be with another organization.
“I had the two years in the minors, and I felt good about that and trying to get back up to the NHL. I went down there with a good attitude. I was going to the rink every day, and I tried to work hard every day, and approach it the same way.”
“Those were obviously some tumultuous times, going through it, but I tried to approach it the right way. In the long term, going to the AHL was the right thing for me. Now I get another chance.”
Redden is joining a Blues team that plays with a defense-first mentality. The system, implemented by Ken Hitchcock, has fared well for the Blues because each player has bought in and adjusted to the system. Redden feels that he will have no trouble doing the same.
Redden spent 11 seasons with the Ottawa Senators, and for eight of those seasons he played under a very similar system.
“I think (Hitchcock’s) system is going to be really familiar to me from when I played with Ottawa under Jacques Martin,” said Redden. “It’s a pressure game, really aggressive style that is smart and defensive-minded. I think it is effective and I think I will fit in really well.”
Redden arrived before Saturday’s game, and was able to watch the Blues rout the Red Wings 6-0. Redden was impressed by the performance, but was not surprised. After all, he has had the tasking experience of playing against a Hitchcock-led team. Part of the reason Redden chose the Blues is because of his familiarity with Ken Hitchcock.
“I’ve worked with him on different teams, and I’ve played against him when he was coaching in Philadelphia and Dallas. I certainly know a lot about him, and have a lot of respect for him so he was definitely a big part of it.”
Redden is expected to suit up for Thursday’s game, though that hasn’t been confirmed yet. Ian Cole was sent to Peoria, but the move is only a formality as the team waits for Jeff Woywitka to either clear, or be claimed off of waivers. If he plays on Thursday, it will be Redden’s first NHL game since the 2009-10 season.