Speculation ran rampant through social media Wednesday morning when the Nashville Predators issued a media advisory about a press conference at 11:30am Central. The problem was the release said the team would have General Manager David Poile and Head Coach Peter Laviolette “and others” present.
That’s it. Zero information accompanied the e-mail.
Did Filip Forsberg suffer a setback with his injury? Was there an addition or a subtraction to the ownership group? Did a coach have to take a medical leave of absence? The point is, it could’ve been about anything. Thankfully, it was none of those things.
Former captain Mike Fisher has come out of retirement and will rejoin the Preds. Once signed, it is believed to be a one-year deal, i.e. for the remainder of the season.
“Today, deer season has officially ended,” Poile joked to lead off the presser. “It’s with great excitement today that we announce Mike Fisher has some unfinished business and intends to make a comeback with the Nashville Predators for the stretch run of the 2017-18 regular season and what we hope is a Stanley Cup Playoff run that ends with two more victories than we had last spring.”
A deal has not been signed yet, presumably to get Fisher where he needs to be physically.
“We have no timetable for his return,” Poile said.
“I’m going to see how I feel,” Fisher added. “I’m going to skate on my own for a little bit and just try to get in shape. I’ve worked out a little bit but I know it’s going to take me some time to get back in game shape. We’ll see how it goes.”
The decision was not made lightly. In fact, according to the panel, it was a few months in the making.
“I really didn’t decide until recently,” Fisher said about the process. “You definitely get antsy at times because you’re used to competition and you’re used to be around the guys all the time so it’s different. I guess come Christmas. That’s when [the bug] started to hit me.”
“Mike’s had an open invitation to our locker room 24/7,” Laviolette said. “So, when it was put on the table, I didn’t seek a yes or no answer. I just wanted to let him know that, if he ever missed it and wanted to be a part of it and part of something down the stretch, that window was 100 percent open with myself and with David. Sometimes that information can lead to something. It was just a welcoming thing that “if you have a desire to play and aren’t sure how to get there, we have a desire to entertain the thought on how maybe we can get that done.”
In six and a half seasons wearing gold, Fisher made his mark despite avoiding the tag of “star player.” He is currently tied for 12th (Colin Wilson, Craig Smith) on the franchise’s all-time scoring list with 237 points, fifth with 109 goals and 15th with 128 assists.
With the top-heavy centers already on the roster in Ryan Johansen, Kyle Turris, Nick Bonino and Colton Sissons — not to mention Calle Jarnkrok and Austin Watson who can play center when called upon — where does Fisher slide in?
“I don’t know what my role’s going to be,” he said. “However I fit in is totally fine. I’m here to help the team. I believe I can contribute and play and comeback to help this team. I’m not concerned about that part of it.”
When the Peterborough, Ontario native was acquired from the Ottawa Senators on February 10, 2011, Nashville was looking for a veteran leader who could not only produce but would have all the intangibles to help spark a deep playoff run. Not only did he lead them to their first opening-round playoff series win in franchise history that same year but he eventually captained them to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017.
As far as financials go, as CapFriendly points out, it’ll be interesting to see what Nashville does.
It will be interesting to see the contract structure Mike Fisher and the #Preds come up with. Nashville has roughly $3.2M in cap space, which is the equivalent of a $9M cap hit when prorated from today.https://t.co/8Pw7BYcBGt
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) January 31, 2018
“I told David it had to be a three-year deal,” Fisher joked.
After Fisher, 37, hung up his skates this past summer, All-Star defenseman Roman Josi was named the eighth captain in Predators history. As it turns out, Josi is the one that started the dialogue to bring Fisher back into the fold.