ST. LOUIS — It's safe to say the New York Rangers and Wade Redden were ready for a divorce.
The Rangers signed the former Ottawa Senators defenseman to a six-year, $39 million free-agent contract in 2008. The fact that the 35-year-old veteran has spent the last two seasons toiling in the minor leagues says a lot about him -- and that contract.
The Blues signed Redden to a one-year, pro-rated $800,000 contract this week, hoping a change of scenery will provide motivation along with opportunity.
Redden passed his physical Sunday, but won't play against Nashville on Monday.
Asked if he thinks Redden has something left in the tank, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock did not hesitate.
"I know he does," Hitchcock said. "I watched him skate, so I know what he's got left."
Redden had been skating during the lockout with a junior team in Kelowna, British Columbia. The NHL's previous collective bargaining agreement helped the Rangers remove his $6.5 million salary cap hit by assigning Redden to the minors.
That rule changed under the new CBA, so the Rangers countered with an accelerated compliance buyout that pays Redden $3.341 million this season, plus two-thirds of the $5 million he is owed for next season.
He also had to clear waivers.
"I always had a feeling that I could get back," Redden said. "Obviously I needed to get out of that contract and move on from it, so fortunately things work out that way and here I am."
Redden became a lightning rod for criticism in New York by the fans and media. His inconsistent play and high-dollar contract combining to add fuel to the fire.
Why didn't things work out there?
"I don't think I'd put a finger on one thing, but it was a collection of things that started the ball rolling the wrong way," Redden said Saturday night while visiting the Blues' dressing room after the season opener. "It kind of snowballed and then they made a choice to go in another direction.
"There were some tumultuous times for me going through it, but I feel good how I came out of it. I think going to the AHL was a good thing in the long run maybe, to go down and now get another chance."
Redden is ready for his NHL exile to end after last playing in the league in April, 2010. His best season in recent years was 10 goals and 50 points with the 2005-06 Ottawa Senators.
Redden has 106 goals and 344 assists in 994 NHL games. With the Rangers from 2008-10, he scored five goals and totaled 40 points in 156 games.
In two minor-league seasons, he had 12 goals and 62 points in 119 games.
Redden is quite familiar with Hitchcock from their days together with Team Canada and said the Blues coach was a key factor in his decision to sign here.
"I've been with him on different national teams and obviously played against him when he was coaching in Philly and Dallas," Redden said. "I certainly know a lot about him. He lives out where near I am in the summer..I've just got a lot of respect for him and that's a big part of it."
Impressed by the Blues' 6-0 win over Detroit, Redden was asked about his own playing level after being out of the NHL for two seasons.
"I feel I've got something to give for sure," Redden said. "I'm looking forward to showing that and getting my feet under me again. It's been a little while since I've been in this league, but looking at some of the guys on the back end and some of the players they have here, it's going to be good for me to come in and support that, be part of that."
Hitchcock said being able to bring Redden in so early in the season "is probably a big advantage. If it was a guy who was coming up to a team that was already in full swing and this was January and he'd spent 2 1/2 years out of the league, then it would be a disadvantage."
Blues winger Jamie Langenbrunner used to faced Redden on a regular basis when both were playing in the Eastern Conference.
"He's good in his own end, but he can get around the ice, too," Langenbrunner said. "He's a smart veteran guy that has been through battles. He's been in some big games and some key situation and knows how to perform in those spots."