Predators captain Shea Weber was sitting at his home watching television on Thursday morning when he got the call that the front office had pulled the trigger on a trade to bring in Mike Fisher.
“I heard rumors about it happening, but for it to actually happen, I think this whole locker room is excited,” Weber said with a smile on his face. He wasn’t the only one to express excitement.
“As a veteran guy and a member of this team, it makes you excited,” Defenseman Shane O’Brien said.
General Manager David Poile made the move to grab Fisher from Ottawa to help this team down the stretch, following the trend of teams attempting to stay ahead of the curve this trading season. Poile gave up a first-rounder in this summer’s draft, along with a conditional pick for next year, but was able to hang on to his top prospects and give the offense a bit of a boost.
“From a business standpoint, for them to make a commitment and bring in a guy like that with his salary and giving up a first-round pick shows they want to win right now,” O’Brien said.
The acquisition of Fisher will help the Predators do what they do best, and that is to play ‘Predator Hockey’. The veteran center is not an elite goal-scorer, but he does a little bit of everything and is a perfect fit in Barry Trotz’s system.
You could really sense the excitement following Friday’s practice as the team knows just what Fisher can bring to the lineup.
“I just like the way he can play on both ends of the ice,” O’Brien said. “He’s always been one of the more complete players in the NHL. His style is a playoff-type style and he’s been to the finals. We’re excited to have him.”
Fisher’s presence will go beyond what he can do on the ice, or what else is following him to Music City (Someone named Carrie Underwood? You may have heard of her). The 30-year-old Ontario native should bring a lot of valuable playoff experience to the locker room.
“That’s another piece to the puzzle where it absolutely does help,” Trotz mentioned. “He’s got the experience in big games and obviously went deep into the playoffs and to the finals one year.”
The Senators were always a team that was looking to ‘get over the hump’ in the playoffs, prior to getting to the conference finals in 2003, and then the Stanley Cup final in 2007. Fisher has that experience with Ottawa of breaking through that barrier, and the Preds hope he helps them do the same thing this spring.
“He’s gone through it all, he knows how to do the right things and he knows how to get to that next level,” Steve Sullivan said. “I’m pretty sure he’ll lead by example. Just watching him play, we’ll be able to learn and will want to follow him. When a player has done that before, it’s easy to follow a guy like that.”
Fisher, who tallied a career-high 53 points last year, was a fan favorite in Ottawa for many years, and that organization is sad to see him go. On the flip side, he will only add on to the great character within the Predators’ locker room.
“I had a chance to skate with him a little bit this summer,” Sullivan said. “It’s not just his on-ice – it’s his off-ice, it’s his personality. He’s just a really good guy and he’s going to fit in very easily.”
As Poile mentioned on a conference call on Thursday, there are ‘no guarantees’ that acquiring Fisher will push this team over the top. Just look back to when the team traded for Peter Forsberg back in 2007; they were set for a deep run into the spring and pegged by many to be the Cup champions. It was all for naught as they were eliminated in five games.
With that being said, this Predators team is better and a lot deeper than they were two days ago. It’s a team that is on a mission to finally make some noise come April, and Fisher is expected to be an integral part of that.
If this happens to be the year, it’s something that would make all of Music City ‘excited’.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.