It’s been 18 years since Mike Fisher laced up his skates for his first taste of NHL hockey. At that time, he was a member of the Ottawa Senators – the team that drafted him 44th overall in the 1998 Entry Draft.
But on Thursday, Fisher decided to hang up his skates and retire from the game he helped grow in Nashville over the past seven seasons. In a letter to the fans in The Tennessean, Fisher wrote: “This is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but I know I’ve made the right one.”
— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) August 3, 2017
Celebrating Fisher’s Career
In his first season, the native of Bridgenorth, Ontario, played just 32 games for the Senators scoring four times and adding five assists. However, that certainly wouldn’t be the pinnacle of his career as he became one of the classiest leaders in the game.
Fisher went on to play parts of 11 seasons with the Senators (from 1999 to 2011) suiting up in 675 regular season games and racking up 167 goals and 348 points in Ottawa. Fisher was traded by the Sens in February 2011 where he would eventually become the Predators captain following the departure of Shea Weber.
While he battled a number of injuries during his time with the Preds, he still played 413 regular season games over parts of seven seasons with Nashville – collecting 109 goals and 237 points.
He’ll leave the game with just under 1,100 regular season games played and 585 career points. He also added 23 goals and 51 points in 134 career playoff games – including a run to the Stanley Cup Final with the Preds in his final NHL season.
Fisher also finished in the top 10 in Selke voting, as the NHL’s best defensive forward, three times over his career – including a third place finish in 2005-06.
Hockey in Nashville
When Fisher arrived in Nashville, they were a mediocre playoff team at best. The franchise hadn’t made it past the second round and weren’t close to bettering that any time soon.
His first full season with the Predators ended in a familiar way for fans in Nashville. After beating the Red Wings in the first round, the Preds were handed a five-game series loss at the hands of the Coyotes.
They missed the postseason following that in 2012-13 and again in 2013-14, but found their way back in 2014-15. That, however, ended in a first-round loss which was followed up by a second-round loss in 2015-16. But, as was mentioned earlier, the Preds went from an eighth seed in the West to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016-17 only to lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.
While Fisher experienced the good and the bad during his time with the Predators, he remained an important leader with the franchise for seven seasons both on and off the ice.
While he never had the chance to raise the coveted Stanley Cup, he recognized in his letter that growth of hockey in Nashville and how the city became Smashville – a city and team he will continue to follow even in retirement.
“I believe that this team, that this city, is going to win a championship, and I’m going to be the biggest fan. No one will be happier than I will be to see it happen, because, these fans, they deserve it.”
While the fans showed how much they support their franchise during their playoff run last season, they’ll miss Fisher as the captain hangs up his skates. A fan favourite Fisher will surely get his time of recognition when the Predators hit the ice for the 2017-18 campaign and if Team Canada is looking for a leader on their Olympic squad, don’t count the 37-year-old out.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.