For years & years, as long as I've been a Wade Redden fan, people have always asked me, "If he ever got traded, or left the team through free agency, would you still be a Sens fan?"
My standard answer has always been, "Well God forbid, but if it did happen, I'd still be a die-hard Sens fan; however, I'd still follow Wade's career as closely as I can."
As you all know, the dreaded day came on July 1st, when Wade Redden, as an Unrestricted Free Agent, finally cut his ties with the Ottawa Senators - the only NHL club he's ever played for - and signed a 6 year deal with the New York Rangers.
There were no tears or tantrums. I was fully prepared - I'd have to be a dummy to think the Senators would sign him after the turmoil this season. And to be honest, I was almost a little relieved. For such a long time, I'd lived in fear of this happening, and then when it was finally done, it was almost like a weight off my shoulders.
Besides, Wade's last few seasons in an Ottawa uniform could not have been entirely enjoyable for him either, what with the fans and media all over him every time he made even the tiniest of mistakes. Oh yes, and how could I forget, Bryan Murray repeatedly trying to trade him when he didn't want to go? Atta make a guy feel welcome and loved.
Truthfully, I'm hoping that a new team in a new city will give Wade a new lease on life, and that his game will be rejuvenated. It irks me when I hear people saying he's done, and that he never lived up to his potential - that he was over-rated.
For a lot of years here in Ottawa, Wade Redden was a star. He was the assistant captain of this team, he was an Olympian, and he was considered one of the best defencemen in the league. What went wrong? I have no idea. I could speculate until the cows come home, but I'll never really know. I'd just love for him to go into New York and be that player that I know deep down Wade Redden can be.
So thus, my dilemma. To be an Ottawa Senators fan, or not to be? Should I follow Wade to New York, get myself a nice blue Rangers jersey with REDDEN on the back, and become a full-fledged follower of the New York Rangers? Or do I stick by my Sens and let my feverish following of Wade die down until it's almost non-existant?
In my heart, I know I can't turn my back on the Sens, even though I'm not impressed with a lot that has gone on over the past year. With news of every new signing, I can't help but feel that this isn't my team anymore - so many new faces, so many of the old ones gone. It's a little heart-breaking for me.
But at the end of the day, with or without Wade Redden, they're still my team, and I know that once the first puck drops, I'll be back in my Red-Black-n-Gold, cheering for them 'til I'm blue in the face.
I'll just be trying a little harder to get tickets when the Rangers are in town, that's all!