By Erica Whyte
Like a fine wine, Zach Redmond keeps getting better with age.
A career year for the 30-year-old defenseman, whose 50 points (21+29) in 58 regular-season games led to an AHL All-Star selection for the second consecutive year and the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s most outstanding blueliner.
“It was a fun year. Things were just kind of going into the net early,” said the notoriously humble veteran. “We had a great power-play and a great team, and when you get all that going, it can make for a special year.”
A special year for one of the Amerks most impactful players, both on and off the ice.
WATCH: ZACH REDMOND YEAR-END INTERVIEW
On top of being a steadfast leader and ‘character guy’ within the locker room, Redmond’s season was filled with accolades. It only took the Traverse City, Mich., native until mid-February to shatter a 46-year-old franchise record for goals by a defenseman, and his career-best 21-goal season topped AHL leaderboards. Additionally, Redmond tied for the overall league lead with nine game-winning tallies and ranked first among blueliners with 10 power-play goals (tied) and 200 shots on goal. He was also one of six Amerks to reach the 20-goal mark this season, including the first-ever defenseman in team history to reach the mark.
“I’ve just been trying to lead by example and help the young guys wherever I can,” said the blueliner of how he conducts himself on the ice and in the dressing room.
However, a reoccurring lower-body injury bug dampened the veteran’s season, most recently sidelining him for three weeks at the tail-end of the season and forcing him to watch from the stands as the Amerks battled for a playoff spot.
“The nature of the injury and how it was nagging was not the easiest way to finish,” Redmond said on locker cleanout day. “It was frustrating.”
Having combatted two major injuries in the past (a stroke at age 15, and a severed artery and 200 stitches in his upper-thigh in 2013) Redmond knew that the key to overcoming the psychological setbacks of being sidelined was to only focus on the things that were within his control.
WATCH: ZACH REDMOND YEAR IN REVIEW WITH ERICA WHYTE
“It’s easy to want to jump back in early, or be upset, or wonder what would be happening if you were healthy,” said Redmond of his recovery process this time around. “But there’s nothing you can do. You just have to worry about trying to get a little better every day and doing what you can, icing and recovery-wise.”
Now that his eighth professional season has come to an end, Redmond is awaiting the birth of his first child – a girl due in late May.
“We’re excited for that,” he said of the much-anticipated new addition. “It’s definitely going to be an entertaining summer.”
As for the few (short) weeks before the birth?
“I’ll probably try to work on my golf game.”