Fisher fine fit for Predators

JASON YORK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:19 PM ET

Retool. Revamp. Or — for the techie hockey fan — reboot.

Whatever you want to call it, the rebuilding process has officially begun for the Senators — and in a way that could hardly be more dramatic.

When GM Bryan Murray decided it was time to start dismantling his roster, he didn’t waste any time making a major statement. By dealing Mike Fisher, one of the most popular players in the history of the franchise, Murray signalled he will likely be a major player in trade talks between now and the Feb. 28 deadline.

As a former teammate and former opponent of Fisher and now as an observer of the Senators, I have always admired how the feisty centre plays every shift like it’s his last. In addition to being an intense competitor, he is a solid two-play player.

Yet as much as it stings for Senators fans to bid farewell to a person who meant so much to the community on and off the ice, it was a deal Murray had to make because the popular Peterborough native no longer fit into the team’s long-term plans.

Fisher is never going to be a prolific goal-scorer — his career high in a season is 25 — and at a salary of $4.2 million US makes too much money for the amount of offence he provides in the regular season.

The Senators will not be a playoff team in 2011. Next season will officially be Year 1 of their rebuilding project, so making the playoffs in 2012 might also prove to be a tough task.

Fisher is a much better fit for a veteran team hoping to make a run at the Cup. A physical force who isn’t afraid to throw his body around, he has always elevated his game in the post-season. He is the kind of player a team loves to have in a best-of-seven series, when the overall intensity of the games dwarfs regular-season levels.

Fisher earned his big contract because of how good he was during the Senators’ march to the Stanley Cup final in 2007.

Obviously, Daniel Alfredsson was fantastic during that run, but many fans might forget Fisher lifted his game to a new level and was one of the few Senators who was able to maintain that calibre of play throughout that spring. When Anaheim raised the intensity bar even higher in the final, Fisher was one of the few Ottawa players who was able to reach it.

Indeed, Fisher’s reputation for being a playoff performer was a big reason why Predators GM David Poile sounded so pleased to land the veteran forward last week.

Going to a playoff-bound team gives Fisher a chance to once again shine in the post-season, the time of year when he has traditionally been at his best.

Fisher wouldn’t have had that opportunity in Ottawa any time soon — not this season and probably not next. So while a big piece of the Senators’ longtime core is now gone, it’s a bittersweet parting that should ultimately benefit both sides.

As good a player as he was during that memorable spring of 2007, Fisher was probably an even better person during his 13 years in the capital. He leaves a legacy that won’t soon be forgotten.


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