When Ottawa Senators fans were told a rebuild was in the plans, many envisioned trades, new players and stockpiling of draft picks. Few if any saw the first domino being longtime Senator Mike Fisher.
After playing 11 seasons as the second line centre behind Todd White, Radek Bonk and Jason Spezza, Fisher will be suiting up for the first time as a member of the Nashville Predators. His role will not change; his worth to a team is on the second line.
Going to Nashville will enable the Preds to match him up against some of the bigger and skilled centres in the west, like Jonathan Toews, Brad Richards, Henrik Sedin and Joe Thornton. The right handed centremanm who has never had more than 25 goals or 53 points in a season, is obviously not known for his offensive ability. On the other hand, Fisher has always been known for getting timely points.
Fisher has always played with controlled emotion. He plays hard and will go to the dirty areas. Very rarely did he go into a hit and end up the player on the ice or bouncing off the boards. And he will drop the gloves when necessary. Because of this Fisher is one of the most respected players in the league. You could see it whenever there was a scrum or pushing and shoving. His dance partners would never take a swing at him or cheap shot the veteran forward.
Despite not being born in the area, Fisher will always be a fan favorite here in Ottawa. He always thought of the area as his. Fisher lived just outside the city where he could have easy access to his favorite outdoor activities. But he was always just a 20 minute drive from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, where he made plenty of unannounced visits at all hours. Dropping in late at night to visit kids at Rogers House was common occurrence and a responsibility he took seriously.
I still remember his rookie season, when–as a 19-year-old–he surprisingly made the Sens roster. What struck me the most was his maturity. Few players ever achieve his outlook and perspective on life or the game, knowing that he is truly fortunate to do what he does. His religious faith is a big part of his day-to-day living; perhaps this allowed him to become an NHL’er before he turned 20.
Fisher always wished to remain a Senator, but sometimes circumstances in life change. A trade to Nashville seemed like a good fit for he and his wife, country singer Carrie Underwood. The notion being floated by some Toronto media that she had a hand in this or that fans in Ottawa were upset with her are far from the truth. Underwood embraced the community and I have yet to hear one fan anywhere complain about her.
This is a hockey trade, and one that makes sense for both teams. Nashville’s gain is Ottawa’s loss, one that will be felt by the fans for years to come.
Fisher–and what he brought to this team and city–will be hard to replace.