I've spent the entire summer trying to sort out my Wade Redden dilemma. I've talked about it with friends, I've blogged about it, I've spent many a sleepless night agonizing over it.
(OK...that last part is not really true, but I said it anyways to add some literary flair. Snazzy, huh?)
What to do, what to do? What to do about my boy Wade?
Cheer for him and the New York Rangers? Cheer for the Sens but keep my eye on the Rangers? Turn my back on him entirely and remain faithful to the Red-Black-&-Gold, no matter what?
As of this past weekend, I still wasn't entirely sure how I was going to treat this unpleasant situation I've found myself in. All I knew for sure was that I had never felt so unenthusiastic about Senators hockey as I did this year, entering training camp. A new coach, a whack of new faces, many of the old beloved ones gone. And no Wade.
Absolutely no Wade.
My excitement for NHL hockey, either Senators or Rangers, has been luke-warm at best.
Of course, I've had to face my dilemma head-on this preseason, with the Sens' first two games being a home-and-home with the Rangers. What a sneaky bit of scheduling that was.
I was almost relieved, though, to hear that Wade was not dressing for the first game in Ottawa. I wasn't quite ready to see him in Ranger colours, especially not on home ice. Because no matter who's signing his pay cheques now, you have to think he still considers Scotiabank Place, where he spent 11 seasons, his home rink.
He did, however, make his debut at Madison Square Garden on Monday night vs. the Sens. I was at Stacy & Ricky's playing BINGO, and Ricky switched over to the game on NHL Centre Ice. Within moments, the cameras flashed on Redden as he was skating off the ice with some of his teammates. They zoomed right in on him, and I had the same reaction I always used to have when he had a close-up on TV:
"Oh! It's Wade! Hi, Wade!"
Then I had a moment of bewilderment when I realized I hadn't recognized him at first. It had taken a couple of seconds for me to clue in who it was.
And then I understood why.
I didn't recognize him because of his new colours!!
So used to him in a Sens jersey, I hadn't even stopped to think of what he'd look like in Ranger blue. And then, there he was. Looking like a Ranger...Acting like a Ranger. Yet my heart was screaming, He's a Senator!!!
It was a difficult moment for me. Probably the hardest thing I've had to do since watching him play out his final minutes as a Senator last spring. If I hadn't been sitting at Stacy & Ricky's, I probably would have cried.
It does help to know that he's struggling with this as well. He says all the right things, about how excited he is to be in the Big Apple, and how much he likes the team and his colleagues. But after that pre-season game when he had to suit up against his old friends, he said this:
''I don't know if it was more weird being here for the first time wearing this (uniform) or playing against that one,'' Redden said. ''I got them both out of the way.''
Well, Wade, I sort of felt the same way.
I'm glad it's out of the way for now, so that hopefully when I'm at the game on Nov. 22 for his first official return to Ottawa in the regular season, I won't get all silly and emotional. I still haven't really decided who I'll be cheering for that night, either.
But I still have another few months to figure that one out.