Believe it, Redden has 18 NHL fights

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:28 AM ET

BUFFALO -- The timing seemed rather odd, with the Senators up by five goals in the game's final minutes.

And yesterday, Wade Redden couldn't really think of a good reason as to why he decided to drop the gloves with Pittsburgh's Guillaume Lefebvre, who has played but 38 NHL games since turning pro at the turn of the century.

But good for him that he did it. And also good for him that he told one scribe, "well don't write about it then" when the guy sighed and said something about Redden starting to sound like Don Cherry as he was answering fight questions from another writer.

"There wasn't any real history there," Redden said of the punch-up with Lefebvre, a shiner under his right eye serving as the reminder that he would have lost on the opinion of any honest judge. "Sometimes, it's just a way to let off steam.

"Besides," he added with a smile, "I've got to get in at least one a year, don't I? That seemed like as good a time as any."

A nine-year veteran known for his smooth skating and soft hands, Redden has now actually been in 18 NHL fights.

He had three his rookie season (1996-97), when he apparently had a problem with the letter W. His card included scraps with Tyler Wright (Pittsburgh), David Wilkie (Montreal) and Landon Wilson (Boston).

He fought Jeff Toms (Tampa) his second year, Sean O'Donnell (Los Angeles) in 1998-99 and Nolan Pratt (Carolina) the following season.

In 2000, during a pre-season game in Edmonton, he one-punched Mike Grier, who he'll face again tonight when the Senators play the Sabres. He went on to scrap with the Primeau brothers (Philly's Keith, Dec. 2 and Tampa's Wayne, Jan. 20) when the regular season began, and with San Jose's Bryan Marchment before that season ended.

He battled Adam Deadmarsh (Los Angeles) and Martin Lapointe (Boston) in 2001-02; Mike Johnson (L.A.), Michal Grosek (Boston), Brad Ference (Florida) and Jason Doig (Washington) in 2002-03, his busiest boxing campaign; and John LeClair (Philadelphia) in 2003-04, his last scrap before meeting up with Lefebvre.

Redden was asked if knew that his most recent opponent was a lefty, which was kind of funny in that he hadn't even remembered playing him before.

"No," he said, "but I found out in a hurry."

About fighting, he added: "It's a big part of the game ... it's a way to show some emotion and it sends a message. You also feel good about yourself after."

Good for Redden, a skilled player who might not win them all (or many) but will still stand up for himself and his teammates.

And yeah, Coach's Corner would approve. That's just the Cherry on top.

TESTING, TESTING ... 1, 2, 3: All Senators had to go pee with another man watching as the NHL conducted drug testing following their practice. "I can go whenever I want," G Ray Emery said with a smile when somebody asked if he needed to drink some water. "It comes in handy." ... Another Razor, former Sabres and Senators tough guy Rob Ray, was present to do TV interviews for the Buffalo broadcast. In his pickup outside was the skin of an impressive, 6-foot, 400-lb. black bear he shot last June in Idaho. An avid hunter, Ray has also taken his father on a hunting expedition in Africa. Anyway, when the subject of steroids arose, Ray was asked if had ever experimented. "The only juice I would have done is the stuff they put in chicken wings," he said. "Chicken wings and Coors Light. The secret to success."

THIS AND THAT: Believe in omens? Tonight's game will mark the second time Dominik Hasek has been back in Buffalo as a member of the visiting team. On the other occasion -- with the Red Wings on March 10, 2002 -- he was pulled after two periods with Detroit trailing 4-1 ... The Sabres are only going to be better after the Olympic break, with the return of Daniel Briere, Tim Connolly and Dmitri Kalin from injury. "I can handle the contact now," said Briere, who began practising with the team Wednesday. "The problem is with my takeoffs. But I'm trying to take it a step further every day and I'm encouraged."

don.brennan@ott.sunpub.com


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