It was one of the first truly tough decisions of the salary cap era.
The Senators wanted to keep both but knew it would be tricky under the confines of the league salary cap. We all know how it played out. Muckler signed Wade Redden. Zdeno Chara ended up with a division rival in Boston. Chara has since won a Stanley Cup and is a perennial Norris Candidate. Wade Redden is buried in the AHL after signing a ridiculous deal with the New York Rangers.
To this day, Sens fans still curse John Muckler for choosing Redden over Chara. But based on what Muckler has to say in the following passage from Behind the Moves, that may not tell the whole story.
"The salary cap is really tough. You've got some tough decisions as a general manager when you're going to have to let some very good hockey players go, like the Chara situation. I had Redden and Chara's contracts expiring the same year...I started negotiations with both of them with the idea of taking the first one who agreed to terms, whoever he was. What I really wanted to do is to sign both of them at the same price, which I was unable to do. Chara would not give us a number. so he walked. Everybody thought that we wanted to do this or that we picked Redden over him. That wasn't the case, it wasn't the case at all." -John Muckler
So while Muckler has taken some heat on this decision over the years, it sounds like the Chara camp may have forced his hand a little bit.
With that said, from my own conversations on the subject, I can confirm that this was not an easy decision for Chara. He loved his time in Ottawa and there were reports of the big man crying in the Sens offices while saying his goodbyes.
Regardless of how you look at the decision, it was a move that Sens fans will always look on with regret. What do you think about the Chara/Redden situation now and how did you feel at the time?
What other moves stand out as missteps by the Ottawa Senators?