Fisher loves playing here

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

The heart and soul of the Senators is signed, sealed and delivered for five more years.

Mike Fisher will skip unrestricted free agency after signing a five-year extension worth $21 million (all terms US) yesterday.

It's a huge raise for Fisher, making $1.5 million this season, but the Senators were anxious to get the centre signed well before next summer.

"It's definitely exciting. I'm glad I could get this done at this point," said Fisher. "I wanted to be here."

Todd Reynolds, Fisher's agent, opened talks with Senators GM Bryan Murray three weeks ago. Reynolds said the six-year, $24-million deal Scott Hartnell signed with Philadelphia was a comparable.

"Mike wanted to be here," said Reynolds. "He lives and breathes for the Ottawa Senators. He didn't want to play for anybody else."

"I don't think (testing the market) was a reality," said Fisher. "Being drafted here and playing here for so many years and playing in a Canadian city and Ottawa, I just love playing here.

"The organization is one of the best in the league. You hear that from guys coming in here and from guys leaving. A lot of people want to play here. I counted myself very fortunate to be here."

Fisher was one of the most consistent players during the Senators' run to the Stanley Cup final last season.

He has a "no movement" clause for the first three years of the new deal and in the final two seasons he'll have a say if the club wants to deal him.

"It's a great day for us. He's a real cornerstone guy here," said Murray. "He's a guy that we think that will be with us, be effective and make our team competitive for the term of his contract."

The signing is the first step toward keeping the squad together after this season.

Murray has started talks with the agents for Dany Heatley, Wade Redden and Chris Kelly, who can all test the unrestricted market next summer. Jason Spezza will be a restricted free agent.

Murray said he hopes the signing sends a message to that the franchise is serious about remaining a contender.

"Mr. Melnyk very definitely wants to keep this team together as best we can," said Murray. "We know that it's going to be a challenge, but starting with (Fisher), that's a guy we wanted to get done right away if we could. It's a great start for us."

FISHER'S DEAL

A breakdown of the five-year contract extension Mike Fisher signed with the Senators yesterday (all terms US, first year includes $1-million signing bonus):

YEAR MONEY

08-09 $6 million

09-10 $4 million

10-11 $4 million

11-12 $4 million

12-13 $3 million


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