OTTAWA – Wade Redden has been around through all of the Senators’ playoff highs and even more lows, and it wasn’t lost on him that Wednesday night’s defeat to the Pittsburgh Penguins was likely his last in an Ottawa uniform.
“That’s something that crossed my mind,” the much-maligned defenceman admitted after the Senators suffered a 3-1 defeat at Scotiabank Place and were swept out of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the Penguins.
“Looking back, it’s been a great time … but right now it’s just tough, losing the way we did and the season the way that it went. That’s the biggest things on my mind right now.”
Less than a year after the Senators experienced their longest playoff run in franchise history, making it all the way to the Stanley Cup final last June, they suffered through their shortest this season.
In 11 straight playoff seasons dating back to 1997, Ottawa is out two days earlier than it was when it was swept by the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 18, 2001.
A number of the Senators’ bigger names were largely anonymous in the series and took their share of the blame.
“Any time your top offensive guys don’t do much offensively, it’s tough to win hockey games,” Senators centre Jason Spezza said. “When your top guys don’t score, you’re obviously going to take the blame.”
The 30-year-old Redden will also take his share and he was one of the more emotional Senators to emerge from the losers’ dressing room Wednesday.
Although many appeared disappointed or frustrated, the product of a season that started with promise and spun out of control, his meeting with reporters was also met with a touch of sadness.
And after twice turning down requests from Senators general manager and coach Bryan Murray to waive the no-trade request in his contract over the past year and scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July, it’s all but guaranteed that the second-longest serving member of the Senators won’t be back in the nation’s capital.
Redden was the team’s highest-paid player this season, making US$6.5 million, and the fans have rarely missed the opportunity to let him know when he’s failed to live up to the expectations set upon on him since he signed that contract two years ago.
Redden acknowledged that his time could indeed be up after 11 seasons with the team.
“After the game (it hit him), probably more so than during the game,” the Lloydminster, Sask., native said. “It’s hard to predict the future here. I’ll give myself some time to think about it.”
It’s the third time the Senators have been swept out of the playoffs.
“It’s hard to sum it up,” Redden said when asked to explain where the season went wrong. “Just looking back on the whole year, what we went through as a team and how we reacted, we kind of lost our way.
“The last stretch, we haven’t been firing, or in that zone, so we shouldn’t be too surprised, but it’s still disappointing.”
Redden is likely just one of a number of changes expected after Ottawa watched its season go up in flames after a 15-2 start to the year.
There were 11 players on the playoff roster who are scheduled to become either unrestricted or restricted free agents July 1.
Another player, goaltender Ray Emery, is expected to be bought out.
The Senators will hold a team meeting on Thursday before heading their separate ways. Murray, owner Eugene Melnyk and president Roy Mlakar will hold a press conference on Friday.
“Obviously we need to do something different and I’m sure Bryan will see what direction we need to go in and make the changes with the things we need to do,” said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who revealed that he’d been playing with a torn medial collateral ligament in right knee. “Now we’re going to have a long summer, everybody should get ready and be prepared because now we know the way the league is.
“It’s not easy to make the playoffs and we’ve got to make sure we’re ready when the puck drops come this fall.”