This New Era
You could look at the situations of veteran defencemen Wade Redden and Sheldon Souray and regard one or both as spectacular falls from graces.
Four years ago, Redden was a Canadian Olympian. Souray was seen as a unique offensive force with his awesome shot, a 26-goal shooter, and a very popular member of the Montreal Canadiens.
And today both are essentially homeless. Well, as homeless as millionaires many times over can possibly be.
A decline in the 33-year-old Redden's play hastened his departure from the New York Rangers, or at least from the Ranger payroll. Souray's game might be similar to what it was in recent years, but injury problems and voicing his displeasure with Oiler management made him persona non grata.
The $23 million and the four years Redden has left on his contract might mean, rather incredibly, that his NHL career is over. For the 34-year-old Souray, there appear to be takers, possibly on re-entry waivers, with Columbus the most frequently mentioned destination and the Rangers always a possibiity when you're talking big-salaried players wanting out of Edmonton.
And wouldn't that be interesting to see the Rangers dump Redden only to be the team that adds Souray?
If there's a common ground in both cases, it's that salary, and the salary cap system, has imprisoned both players, although it may be temporary in Souray's case.
If this is 2002, one of the wealthy teams would be adding these players. Maybe it would be the Leafs adding Souray, or Chicago adding Redden, or whatever. At one time, St. Louis was a haven for big-salaried vets. Back then, these teams could spend to the moon and it didn't matter. Now, even if they liked the players, none could possibly take Redden and his full $6.5 million salary or Souray and his full $5.4 million figure because of what it would force them to do with other players.
Once 30-something players with enormous salaries could find a home, particularly under the old system where teams could absorb some of a player's salary as part of a trade. Now, it's an easier play for the blueline-challenged Anaheim Ducks to see if 18-year-old Cam Fowler can play in the NHL than to take a shot at Redden or Souray.