Redden rarin' for 'last run'

DON BRENNAN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:15 AM ET

Some will say he has already moved on.

But the fact remains that Wade Redden is a key member of the Senators and if he can somehow turn up his game, the 30-year-old defenceman will greatly enhance this team's chances of a first-round upset while helping himself re-establish appeal to other NHL teams.

Redden, one of the most popular Senators ever, has as few as four games left here. With Redden set to become an unrestricted free agent in July, Ottawa won't even bother to try to re-sign him. At $6.5 million, he is far too rich for the Senators' blood, especially when there's still a GM or two who believe a) Redden is simply having a bad season, b) that he feels unwanted by his current employers and it has affected his play, c) that he is far too young to be done, and d) that he can and will regain the form that made him a star blueliner.

There's talk that this summer, Redden will ink a similar contract with Los Angeles, the Rangers, San Jose or even Edmonton.

In the meantime, he is dealing with the emotional challenge of potentially playing his final days for the team he started his career with as a teenager a dozen years ago.

"That's obviously in the back of your head, but to be focused I don't want to look farther than Game 1 (of the playoffs)," Redden said. "That's the way you've got to approach every playoffs, just one at a time. For sure, knowing that it could be the last run is all the more incentive to just focus on one at a time and give it all you've got in each one."

Redden admits that having twice been asked to veto the no-trade clause in his contract and the message that sent him has been distracting.

"I think it's been an issue, but I don't think I could point a finger at it and say it's affected me too much," said Redden, not one to hide behind excuses. "For me, I've got to be focused on the game, and that's when I'm at my best."

It hasn't been easy. A former 17-goal scorer and 50-point man, Redden tallied just six goals and 32 assists this season. He hasn't scored in 35 games, and has just 10 assists over that span. Whereas he used to own a low and easy-to-deflect accurate shot, he's been firing high and wide.

Coach and GM Bryan Murray did give Redden credit for picking up some of the leadership slack left by injuries to Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher.

"Wade Redden, he's been played down, but this guy in the last few weeks, to me has really tried to step up and do more," said Murray. "He's better in the room because he's been forced to be better."

He can be better on the ice, too. Much better. And in needing many players to perform at their best for them to beat Pittsburgh, the Senators are counting on Redden.

WHERE'S THE BUZZ?: Is it really playoff time? Doesn't feel like it in this city. Where are the car flags? The hype? The media? Yesterday, no local TV stations attended Murray's press conference, the first of the post-season, and only one newspaper had more than one writer show up.

ANOTHER THING: Murray had praise for Antoine Vermette, who, in the wake of Fisher's injury, moved to his natural position of centre and scored four goals in the last two games. "I think any time you give a good person opportunity, they will come with more emotion and a desire to prove that they can do it," Murray said.

FINAL WORDS: Asked by reporter who normally doesn't follow the Senators if Ray Emery could be his playoff goalie, Murray replied: "You never know. I've done some really strange things in my career." ... If the Leafs fire Paul Maurice, he may have killed his chances of being hired in Ottawa with comments about the Senators not going after Mark Bell Thursday for his hit on Alfredsson. Murray was not impressed.


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