Redden fights a private 'hell'

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

The question -- posed to one of the game's best players and truly fine gentlemen yesterday after the other reporters had left his dressing room stall -- was casual, totally innocent and certainly not meant to generate the response it did.

How difficult and focus-interrupting is it, he was asked, to be flying back and forth between home and adopted home, especially at this demanding time of the hockey year?

"Yeah, it's been tough," he said quietly, his voice seeming to crack slightly, though not enough to make a guy look up from his notepad. "Not physically as much as emotionally.

"I think right now, you just look at the playoffs, and how important they are ... so you just try and get yourself ready to play ..."

With that, Wade Redden suddenly stopped. He was obviously upset.

His eyes were red and watery.

He was crying.

Redden's mother Pat is in Lloydminster, Sask., involved in an extremely difficult stage of her fight with cancer. Nobody needs to know more than that.

What you do need to know is that Redden, a proud and valuable member of Ottawa's NHL team since he was 19 years old in September 1996, is currently going through hell.

He knows both his family and his team need him and the truth is, he's not sure which way to turn. His heart is with his mom, who he is so afraid of losing. But at the same time, he understands he can do more for his fellow Senators, his employers, this city.

To have lived what he is going through with a loved one is the only way to comprehend how courageous he is to be here right now. It's also enough to put a lump in your own throat, a tear in your own eye.

Redden was nothing short of sensational in Ottawa's thorough, slide-topping victory in New York on Tuesday night. He played 24 shifts and saw 18:55 of ice time -- not as much as usual as coach Bryan Murray tried to keep Zdeno Chara against Jaromir Jagr -- and he contributed largely.

He had one assist, on Daniel Alfredsson's game-winning goal. He recorded four shots on goal, two blocked shots, two hits. He nailed Alfredsson with an uncanny second- period pass that stretched from the Ottawa goal line to the New York blue line -- the longest bomb possible -- that didn't turn into another score only because Henrik Lundqvist made an outstanding save off the breakaway.

He also registered a plus-1 which, combined with Jagr's minus-1, gave him half of the NHL's plus-minus crown. Like Redden, Rangers defenceman Michal Rozsival also finished the season at plus-35.

"It's an honour," Redden, who also had 10 goals and 40 assists for a career-high 50 points in just 65 games, said of being the co-plus-minus winner. "That stat can be skewed a bit, but it obviously says you're doing something right.

"You have to be on a good team to have a good plus-minus. It's a credit to everybody. Zee and Philly (Chris Phillips) go against the top two guys on the other team almost every night, and that puts me in more of an offensive position. We've scored lots of goals."

IMPRESSIVE EFFORT

Murray was clearly impressed with Redden's performance on Broadway.

"I thought he played real good," said Murray. "The way he moves the puck is something. That pass he made to Alfredsson coming off the bench ... he just played a real solid game. He'll be a real important guy for us in the playoffs."

When No. 6 left the building yesterday, he walked alongside Dominik Hasek, the great goalie who obviously isn't playing because of a pain that will not allow it.

Wade Redden feels a much different hurt these days.

Say a prayer for him and his family, as he bravely fights through it before your very eyes.


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