Ottawa Senators fans have had no shortage of reasons to get all nostalgic this season.
The club is celebrating their 30th anniversary season; Daniel Alfredsson went to the Hockey Hall of Fame last month (and turned 50 on Sunday); and Chris Neil will have his number 25 sweater retired in February.
But tonight is all about Wade’s World.
In a pre-game ceremony, former defenceman Wade Redden will become the first player to be inducted to the Senators’ Ring of Honour.
Proudly donning the #Sens jersey for 838 games, he helped set the benchmark for what leadership and success meant on and off the ice in Ottawa.
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) November 17, 2022
Redden played 838 games with the Senators, scoring 410 points (5th in club history), while averaging 24 minutes of ice time. He was a smooth skating defenceman, often celebrated for that precision, tape to tape pass coming out of Ottawa’s zone, either helping the Sens on the rush or bailing them out of trouble. His career plus/minus is +159, better than any Senator ever.
“It’s a huge honour,” Redden said. “Being a Senator is obviously something I’m very proud of. I really appreciate this honour and the acknowledgement.”
Redden was just as good off the ice. In 1997, he began inviting kids from CHEO to hockey games. And they weren’t your standard seats either. They were tickets in a suite for the child and their family members. The suite was known as “Wade’s World,” an obvious nod to the movie, “Wayne’s World,” which was hugely popular at the time.
Earlier this season, in a lovely reunion, Redden got a chance to reunite with one of the kids he hosted in 1997. Julian Van Popta was a former CHEO cancer patient, and his family’s appreciation for Redden is still evident – 25 years later.
Wade Redden launched “Wade’s World” in 1997 which brought CHEO kids out to watch Senators games in a suite. Julian Van Popta, a former CHEO cancer patient, helped open the suite as a 12-year old. This past weekend Wade and Julian reunited 25 years later in that very same suite ❤️ pic.twitter.com/5zJaaPTe6g
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) October 4, 2022
Redden was hired earlier this season as Ottawa’s player development coach. He continues to reside in BC but supports and helps to develop the team’s prospects, focusing on the young defencemen in Senators’ system.
Former GM Bryan Murray is the only other member of the franchise’s Ring of Honour. Murray was inducted in 2017, three years after a terminal cancer diagnosis and seven months before his passing.
The Ring is located in the 300 level of the Canadian Tire Centre and appears to be reserved for franchise builders (Jacques Martin would be an amazing choice) and great Ottawa Senator players who aren’t quite at the jersey retirement level.
Since Murray’s induction, there’s been no shortage of potential follow up candidates. Marion Hossa, Alexei Yashin, Patrick Lalime, Mike Fisher, Radek Bonk and Jason Spezza are all retired players who’d be worthy choices. But the Ring has been quiet for some reason, probably due to the distractions of a rebuild.
Redden’s career as a Senator was every bit as impactful as Chris Phillips’ or Chris Neil’s, whose numbers will never be worn in Ottawa again. So one could make a strong case the club might have followed suit with Redden, retiring his old number 6. In fact, the only distinct advantages Phillips and Neil have on Redden is more games played, playing their entire careers in Ottawa and then living here afterward. But it’s not as if Redden was only here for a cup of coffee and gone. He’s in 4th place, all-time, in games played for the franchise.
But this certainly isn’t a day for controversies. By far, the most important thing is that a great career and a great person are being recognized and honoured in Ottawa Monday night.
By Steve Warne