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Redden’s unusual journey to 1,000 games

Feb 7, 2013, 8:53 AM EDT

(L-R) Alex Pietrangelo #27, Wade Redden #6 and Vladimir Sobotka #17 of the St. Louis Blues celebrate a goal against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on January 26, 2013 in Dallas, Texas. Getty Images

St. Louis Blues defenseman Wade Redden might play in his 1,000th NHL game tonight. It’s a feat that’s special on its own, but it’s his path to this day that has been truly unique.

Back when Redden was shining as one of the top offensive defensemen in the NHL during his days with the Ottawa Senators, no one would have had a problem believing that he would someday reach the 1,000-game mark.

After inking a six-year, $39 million deal with the New York Rangers prior to the start of the 2008-09 campaign, reaching the major hockey milestone was seen as nothing more than a rapidly approaching inevitability.

Of course, things didn’t go as planned. Redden’s contract with the Rangers was a disaster and after 994 career NHL games, the Rangers decided to make him an extremely well-paid minor-leaguer. Redden spent two seasons in the AHL before the lockout prevented him from doing even that.

If it wasn’t for the amnesty buyouts that were included in the new CBA, he still wouldn’t be playing in the NHL. Fortunately for him there were and now he’s with the St. Louis Blues after signing a far more modest one-year, $800,000 contract.

“I know how hard he worked to be ready for when he got a chance again,” his former captain, Ottawa Senators forward Daniel Alfredsson, said in an Ottawa Citizen report.

“He was in a tough spot. He couldn’t really do anything. He couldn’t just ask for a trade and get a new start somewhere else. It was a really hard situation. We had talks about whether he wanted to keep playing. The money is obviously not the issue, but it wears on you mentally and with the motivation. I’ve been impressed with how he stuck with it and it’s nice to see that it’s paying off.”

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