By Suzie Cool (@SuzKewl) | Published on May 29, 2020
After three full seasons, defenseman Zach Redmond is feeling bittersweet now that his final season with the Rochester Americans has officially come to an end.
It’s been public knowledge for a few weeks now that Redmond is taking the next step in his career by going overseas to play professionally in Germany’s top league with Red Bull Munich, a squad set to get into action potentially as early as August.
Although the timing felt right for Redmond and his family to make the decision to head elsewhere at this point in his hockey career, the unexpected ending to his final season with Amerks has left him with a feeling of unfinished business.
“I hate to say that the cancellation wasn’t a surprise, but it doesn’t make it sting any less knowing that I’m leaving such a special place. And it does feel like there is unfinished business there and the last couple of seasons didn’t end the way we would’ve wanted them to.”
Making the sting even worse was the mere fact that he was denied any kind of opportunity to formally express his gratitude to the organization or the chance to say goodbye to the group that has become his family these last three years.
WATCH: ZACH REDMOND YEAR-IN-REVIEW
Over the course of the last three seasons, Redmond has skated in 183 games with the Amerks while serving as an assistant captain for two of them. As one of the veterans on Rochester’s roster, Redmond has led the defense by combining for 41 goals and 86 assists while being a valuable and consistent presence on the blueline.
Arguably, Redmond’s best efforts came during the 2018-19 campaign when he set a season franchise record for goals by a defenseman with 21. What helped lead the Amerks blueliner to becoming the eventual Eddie Shore Award winner as the AHL’s most outstanding defenseman last season year was that on top of those 21 markers, 10 of them came on the power-play and nine were game winners, making him more than a key component in opportune times for the club.
In usual Redmond fashion, though, he’ll never credit himself for the personal accolades that he achieved or the historical barriers he broke as he commends his teammates around him for much of the success he saw in his second year in Rochester.
“That was a fun season for a number of reasons,” recalled Redmond. “We had a very good team and scoring goals is probably the most fun thing that you can do and that year the puck was going in the net quite a bit for me. A lot of that success was because of my teammates around me and the power-play was doing great.”
Looking at just this past season, it seemed that the 2019-20 season was just a different chapter in the same story for the 31-year-old Redmond.
The two-time AHL All-Star and reigning Eddie Shore Award was tied for 20th in scoring amongst all defensemen with 30 points and was also tied for 18th with a team-high 25 assists, 10 of which came on the power-play prior to the season’s end. His 159 shots also ranked second-most by a defenseman, trailing just San Antonio’s Jake Wallman in that category.
With the season coming to an abrupt close, Redmond appeared in 59 games with the Amerks this past season. He scored five goals with three coming on the power-play and two holding up as game-winners while also accumulating just 24 penalty minutes, his fewest since the 2013-14 seasons when he was with the St. John’s IceCaps.
Now we can continue to look at the historic numbers that Redmond put up during his three seasons as an Amerk, but on a personal level, what made Rochester so special to him was the people associated with the city which helped him turn it into a home.
“The people for me,” he said. “That’s my teammates, the coaches, the training staff, and most importantly, the fans. One thing that is kind of overlooked, upon reflection and has come to light, is that the people in Rochester are just so friendly and great.”
Redmond makes his exit from the Flower City playing in close to 400 AHL games over the span of nine seasons. The Rochester staple also made his mark at the NHL level for a number of years, appearing in 133 games while playing for four different clubs, including a brief three-game stint with the Buffalo Sabres back in 2017-18.
As we’re all left wondering who will fill the veteran defenseman’s gap in the Amerks lineup come next season, there’s truly no one else in the world that will miss Rochester as much as he will even in the midst of embarking on an entirely new journey over the next couple of months.
“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity that the coaches gave me, how the fans treated me and how my teammates treated me. I had a lot of fun at the rink, I had a lot of fun in the city and I’ve made a home here in Rochester.”
“I’m literally leaving with nothing but positive feelings and that’s what makes something like this so tough. When you create so many good things in one place, it’s really hard to leave.”
Redmond may be closing a chapter in his book here in Rochester but there’s always an opportunity for him to reopen it if he ever decides to make his way back to the AHL.
Until then, good luck, Reds. We got some big skates to fill.