It may have been brief, but Mike Fisher coming out of retirement offered a jolt of energy to the Nashville Predators. Unfortunately, they still fell short.
There’s no dispute that Fisher is one of the most popular players in Nashville Predators history. He’s one of those larger than life players that gets fans buzzing, and his play on the ice backs it up. When I originally heard that Fisher might be coming back from retirement, I thought it was just a rumor to get people talking. However, when that rumor became a reality I had mixed emotions. My biggest reservation was disrupting an already good team’s chemistry.
This chatter of Fisher coming out of retirement started picking up steam in January. At this time the Predators were gaining momentum, with only four losses in the month o January. As much as I will always appreciate what Fisher means to this franchise, I’m still left somewhat disappointed in the results.
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Fisher plays 16 regular season games
You can’t script things any better when you look at Fisher’s first game back. In the team’s second game of March, Fisher returns to the ice. It comes against a struggling Vancouver Canucks team, but nonetheless the unthinkable happens. Fisher scores in his first game back. Suddenly the expectations naturally go up for what he will be able to bring for the remainder of the season.
Fisher would go five games before recording his next goal out of retirement, a goal that goes down as a game-winner in the box score. At this point, the Predators are looking poised to return to the Stanley Cup. They’re sitting at 48-14-10, atop the division and aren’t really in need of a lot of production from Fisher.
The low volume of shots that Fisher was able to make in his 16 games stands out. It illustrates that he wasn’t the same player as he was less than a year before when he was playing in the Stanley Cup. His role was clearly much different, and his leadership and intangibles had to take over. He’s able to muster up just 14 shots on goal, out of 23 shot attempts. That’s less than a shot on goal per game. For comparison, just the season before he had 120 shots on goal out of 194 shot attempts in 72 games.
Fisher cements his legacy with Predators
You have to look past the numbers when grading Fisher’s return out of retirement. You can’t give him a complete grade because he simply didn’t have enough time to get fully acclimated with the team. That’s one reason why I was never a fan of the move. It doesn’t mean I fault him for having the burning desire to take care of unfinished business.
I commend Fisher for giving every ounce of energy to win a Stanley Cup for the Predators. His return had some exciting moments but was largely uneventful. That’s not to say he didn’t provide important leadership and depth on the fourth line. I do have to question if that comes at the cost of a younger player getting valuable playing experience.
One area we can find a major positive in is the faceoff circle. There was no rust in that department as he won nearly 60 percent of his faceoffs, which is well above his average in previous seasons. The Predators as a whole are very good in the faceoff circle, and Fisher bolstered them up even more.
As most of us already know, Fisher is re-entering retirement. Here’s what he had to say following his final game, per Jeremy Gover of the Nashville Predators Radio Network:
Fisher belongs on the Mount Rushmore of Nashville Predators players. He encompasses everything you want in a captain. He does it all, whether it’s scoring, assisting, getting hits or winning faceoffs. He’s the ultimate teammate that tried to make one last attempt at winning a Stanley Cup. I certainly can’t fault him for that, and you shouldn’t either.
I’ll attempt to give him a season grade in his brief comeback. I, unfortunately, believe that Fisher got a harsh dose of reality that age has caught up to him. He didn’t necessarily hurt the Predators by being in the lineup, but didn’t really bring anything outside of intangibles. His four points and lack of shot attempts shows me it’s time for him enjoy the rest of his life.
I give him an average grade for the season, which feels blasphemous. It has no merit on what his legacy will always be with the Predators franchise. He finishes his Predators career sixth overall in goals with 111 and tied for fourth in even-strength goals with 82.