Tom Fitzgerald, Greg Johnson, Kimmo Timonen, Jason Arnott and Shea Weber. Those are the names of all of the men who have served as full-time captain of the Nashville Predators.
In the worst kept secret since the last Winter Classic announcement, the Predators organization has named veteran center Mike Fisher their sixth ever full-time captain. The captaincy became available when Weber was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for 2013 Norris Trophy winner PK Subban this past June.
“You’ve heard me, for a lot of years, talk about the Predator way,” General Manager David Poile said. “It would be impossible to find a player who would better exemplify those qualities. It takes a special person to wear the ‘C’ and who’s willing to take on all the responsibilities that comes with being a captain.”
The Peterborough, Ontario native has collected 543 points over his 16-year NHL career and, just last season, skated in his 1,000th game. Fisher, 36, went to the Stanley Cup Final with the only other team he’s known in those 16 years, the Ottawa Senators, back in 2006-07 and wants to get back there again before his career comes to a close.
“One word from me for this year would be ‘excitement,'” Fisher said. “I look at our group of guys — young men with a lot of talent — I look at our fanbase and how excited our city is and how great an organization [we have]. I believe that we can win the Stanley Cup here in this city. Ultimately, the goal is to win a Stanley Cup and I’m just honored to be a part of that group.”
Fisher may only have one year left on his contract but he is no stranger to leadership. He’s worn an “A” as an alternate captain each of the last four years for Nashville and wore an “A” in Ottawa for each of his last three years there as well. His last time wearing the “C”, however, was all the way back in 1998-99 when he was a member of the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League.
Currently ranked 15th all-time among Nashville Predators in scoring (195 points), Fisher is also just two goals shy of eighth all-time in that department (91).
But more than offensive numbers, the man once referred to as “Carrie Underwood’s husband” by a leading Nashville media publication has the respect of his teammates in the room. Over the last few years, when talking about the leadership team, Fisher’s name was always mentioned alongside Weber, Roman Josi and Pekka Rinne.
“Name a characteristic you’re looking for in a captain and Mike is that,” Poile said. “Character person with life’s priorities in order, has a wonderful family, commitment to his faith, he’s got integrity and he’s respected by his teammates, by coaches, by officials and by opponents. He’s got intensity. He treats every game and every shift with equal importance. He leads by example, he plays through adversity and he has no excuses.”
With all of that in mind, naming Fisher captain is a logical move but, in another way, it’s also a peculiar one.
In an exclusive interview with David Boclair of the Nashville Post this summer, General Manager David Poile himself called Josi “a potential captain.” Furthermore, Josi has been an emerging member of the leadership group for the past couple seasons, has worn the “A” for his native Switzerland in various international tournaments, is an NHL All-Star, is signed through June of 2020, has put up career numbers each season and, at 26 years old, is a cornerstone of the Predators’ future.
At 36, Fisher could be seen as more of a stop-gap until Josi (or someone else) is ready.
“When it came to the captaincy, Mike Fisher was the clear cut choice for us, for this team and for this time in its history,” Poile said. “Yes, we all know Mike is entering the final year of his current contract but Mike can play here as long as he wants. I don’t view this as a one-year captaincy.”
“The captain of the team has a major impact on the team and its direction,” Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. “He serves as the voice in the dressing room and is the one player who can represent the entire team. No one on our roster can do that better than Mike Fisher.”
With the talent of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, James Neal, Josi, Subban, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and Rinne being led by a genuine team-first player like Fisher wearing the “C,” the Predators are set up for success this season.
“It’s an honor to be given the captaincy of this team,” Fisher said about where it ranks among his accomplishments. “It’s right up there. But hopefully we’re going to top it with the Cup. That’s the plan.”
HEADLINE PHOTO CREDIT: Brooks Bratton// Nashville Predators
INSET PHOTO CREDIT: Sudbury Wolves