It’s been a full year (well almost, 364 days to be exact) since Dave Poile made a deal with the Ottawa Senators to bring Mike Fisher’s talents to the Music City. Fisher had played up to that point his entire career in Canada’s capital and had established himself as a fan favorite. His deep Christian faith and outstanding ability on the ice made him impossible for Senators fans not to love. The fans love for him and his teammates was never higher than when Fisher and the Senators faced off against the Anaheim Ducks in the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals, though they fell short it appeared Ottawa had a bright long term future. However in the ensuing four years the Senators were plagued by turmoil as first round exits, missing the playoffs, coaching changes and a disgruntled superstar (Dany Heatley) became the norm and took the place of what many thought would be long post season runs and possible Stanley Cup banners. However through it all Fisher’s passion and level of play were never questioned despite his at times offensive inconsistencies. He even found himself in a relationship with country music superstar Carrie Underwood; this made him just as much a figure with TMZ as he was with TSN. In the summer of 2010 the two were married and in the ensuing hockey season the Senator struggled mightily.
By February with the team nose diving and the playoffs becoming out of reach Senators GM Bryan Murray began shipping off veterans on the team in return for assets to kick start the franchise’s rebuilding process, Fisher was one of them. In a deal only Hollywood (Or Music Row) could script Fisher was shipped to the country music capital of the world and home base of him and Underwood for a 1st round pick where the Predators hoped he could buck the trend that was their postseason misfortune. While it appeared to be a steep cost for a player who no one would label a “superstar” the deal had plenty of upside for everyone involved. Firstly and most obviously Fisher was placed on a team that had a shot at making a playoff run in a place where he called home, secondly the Predators received a player with postseason experience who had been a finalist for the Selke trophy for best defensive forward (2006) and was seemingly custom made for Barry Trotz’s system. Also although high the pick they shipped to Ottawa would not be as felt as it would in other organizations due to Nashville’s always deep and talented farm system of young players. Lastly Ottawa got what it wanted in the form of a high pick to hopefully draft more high quality players to get back on steady ground. For Ottawa the Fisher deal not only signaled the end of an era but also the beginning of a mass exodus of older players from the Senators as Chris Kelly (Boston), Alexei Kovalev (Pittsburgh), Chris Campoli (Chicago), and Jarkko Ruutu (Anaheim) were all shipped to teams in contention in exchange for draft picks (Kelly would go on to win the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins). Upon arriving in Nashville Fisher had 12 points in 27 regular season games and added 7 more in 12 postseason contests as the Predators won their first ever playoff series before losing in six games to eventual Stanley Cup runners up Vancouver Canucks.
So far in his first full season in Nashville Fisher stands third on the team in scoring with 32 points in 46 games as the Predators find themselves 5th in the Western Conference and look to gain ground on divisional foes St. Louis and Detroit as the playoffs inch close. As a veteran of 12 seasons and 748 games Mike Fisher has seen it all; playoff runs, lottery teams, and road trips across North America to name a few, but tonight will be a first for #12. Entering Scotiabank Place as a visitor for the first time will definitely tug on his heart strings and while I cannot say for sure that there will be tears I can say that he will get a much warmer reception than NBA star Lebron James did when he returned to Cleveland last year. The fans in Ottawa are as passionate as there is in the league and they recognize the sacrifices they got from Fisher every single night he wore a Senators sweater and continues to offer the Predators. Returning to the city where he grew up both as a hockey player and as a man will not be easy but with the support of his teammates and the cordial reception he is sure to get from the Senators faithful tonight will surely be a very special night for Fisher to enjoy and hopefully help the Predators nab two points from the upstart Senators.
In keeping with #12 I included this vlog piece I did on Fisher a few months ago for my Youtube Channel: