By Ryan J. Harr
Since completing a four-year collegiate career at Ferris State University (CCHA) in the spring of 2011, Zach Redmond has played in eight different cities throughout North America and Canada, but only two have been “close” to home.
The 29-year-old Redmond was acquired by the Buffalo Sabres early last month from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Nicolas Deslauriers and immediately reported to the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League.
By joining the Sabres organization, it meant he would be playing close to home after spending parts of his first seven professional years scattered across North America. Before this season, Redmond had played for the Montreal Canadiens, Colorado Avalanche and Winnipeg Jets along with their respective AHL affiliates with the St. John’s IceCaps and San Antonio Rampage following a brief stint with the Chicago Wolves (AHL).
“It is a great option to be closer to home,” said Redmond. “Traverse City is a quick drive to both Rochester and Buffalo, so for my family and friends to be able to come to more games is obviously a great thing. They enjoy coming to the games, but in the past, if they made more than a game or two they were lucky because of the location being farther away from home.”
Growing up, Redmond was one of three triplets along with brother, Alex, and sister, Meaghan. They’ve stayed close literally ever since the day they were born.
“Alex, Meaghan and I are close knit siblings. We grew up having the same friends, playing the same sports, and more times than not, were doing the same things. My parents were very hard-working but were very supportive of us and present at a lot of our games. I feel super lucky to have the kind of support at home growing up and that I do now.”
Fast-forward to the present, the support from his family remains as strong as it ever was as he continues to chase his NHL dreams. He may be in his third different organization in as many years, but feels the move to Rochester was easy as it brings him a little closer to the people that are closest to him. On top of that, the familiarity of the organization from having played in Rochester over the years as an opponent and the past history with some ex-teammates who are teammates again made the transition seamless.
“One of the things that helped with the transition is that I have played with a handful of guys before I even got here,” Redmond said. “Some of the guys on both the Amerks and Sabres I have skated and worked out with during the summer. On top of that, I have played on the same team as a few of them in the past, so I knew a lot of players which helped a lot.”
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound blueliner has one goal and four assists through his first seven games with the Amerks and has appeared in three contests with the Sabres over two different recalls, the most recent of which came earlier this week.
“Prior to being traded over the summer, I thought to myself ‘of all the organizations, Buffalo would be a really great organization to play for’,” Redmond said. There was new management and coaches, and from what I heard from other players in the league, Buffalo really takes care of their players. Both Buffalo and Rochester are close to home, so I was really happy and excited once I heard I would be a part of the Buffalo organization.”
Upon his arrival to Rochester, Redmond felt like he had been a part of the team all along despite never wearing an Amerks jersey.
“Coming to the Amerks was super easy,” Redmond said. "The guys were super welcoming and I fit right in. With the changeover during the summer months, it helped me because everyone was still new and getting used to one another, so I did not feel like I was completely alone during the transition. All in all, the transition was really easy."
Now that he’s here, Redmond, the third-oldest defenseman on the Amerks active roster, says he is eager to help the younger players out, maybe not by his words, but rather his actions, as he learned earlier in his career.
“In my early years in St. John’s, Jason Jaffray was a player I looked up to the most,” said Redmond. “He was the captain of our team for several seasons. I always noticed how he carried himself and showed up every day wanting to get better. He helped teach me how to be a professional while showing me the attitude I needed to have in order to stay in the game for a long time. I hope I can be the player he was to me, to some of the younger guys on this team.”
Fortunately for the Amerks, the season is still young and Redmond still has a lot to offer.