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Familiarity should make Fisher's move smooth

by John Manasso
NASHVILLE -- Usually when the Nashville Predators acquire a new player, coach Barry Trotz takes the personal approach of picking up that player at the airport.

When Mike Fisher arrived Friday night from Ottawa, Trotz deferred to someone else.

"I'm sure someone he knows a lot better than me picked him up," Trotz quipped after the team's morning skate Saturday.

"And a lot prettier, too," interjected Predators television analyst Terry Crisp.

They were referring, of course, to Fisher's wife Carrie Underwood, the Nashville-based country music star. It's been a bewildering few days for Fisher since learning after practice Thursday in Calgary that he had been dealt by Ottawa to Nashville for a first-round pick in 2011 and a conditional pick in 2012.

He flew back to Ottawa from Calgary, collected some belongings and arrived here late Friday. His first face-to-face meeting with Trotz and his new teammates was Saturday morning at Bridgestone Arena before the Predators' morning skate for their game against Colorado.

The skate was optional for Nashville and with a few players hurt – Trotz wasn't willing to say which ones – Fisher wasn't even sure who his linemates would be for his debut. Trotz said he would spend the afternoon thinking about whether he would completely blow up the lines all together or simply to tinker with his new addition.

Fisher was getting used to new equipment -- gloves, helmet and such -- and introducing himself to everyone in addition to still adjusting to the thought that his home was no longer Ottawa, the place where the 30-year-old had spent all 11 of his NHL seasons.

"Just trying to kind of get my bearings and meet everyone, get my gear together," Fisher said. "It's definitely a weird feeling for sure. I'm excited. It's been a lot of fun so far. ... To me, it's a good start and a fresh start to come into a new team, great city and a lot of positive things, so for me it's exciting."

The only capacity in which Fisher has played with any member of the Predators in the past was at the IIHF World Championships. Nashville defenseman Shea Weber was on that team, as was injured center Matthew Lombardi.

Fisher said thoughts swirled in his head as he spent many hours in airplanes during the last few days. Trotz realized that playing for so long in Ottawa and having a good deal of success there would make the transition for the former Selke finalist "bittersweet."

"A lot of thoughts," Fisher said. "Obviously, being in one place for so long it makes it difficult to leave, but it makes it that much easier when you know where you're going and you're coming to a great city, a great team, a good group of guys, so the excitement takes over. There's so many different emotions about different things, but overall it's been a real positive thing and something that I think will be great for me."

"It's definitely a weird feeling for sure. I'm excited. It's been a lot of fun so far. ... To me, it's a good start and a fresh start to come into a new team, great city and a lot of positive things, so for me it's exciting." -- Mike Fisher

Fisher is coming from a team that is only two points away from having the NHL's worst record to one that is tied for sixth place in the Western Conference and just one shy of fourth.

"It's a breath of fresh air, that's for sure," he said. "It's been a struggle all year. Been a real disappointment and then all of the sudden I come to a great team and an opportunity to play in the playoffs and make a great push, so that right away, I think it's going to be really good for me and I'm excited about that."
Not only is the team he is now playing for a much better bet to make the playoffs but Fisher, who is under contract for two more seasons after this one, knows he will be in the same city in which his wife lives. He said he hadn't seen her in a while, which was why he turned down Trotz's offer to pick him up.

"It's a good feeling for sure," he said of living in the same city as Underwood. "I think we're both --  it's going to make it a lot easier on us and a little less travel and that part obviously is a bonus. And I'm comfortable in the area, spend a lot of time here, so coming here I don't have to look for a house and all those things so the transition is going to be a lot easier off the ice."

By adding Fisher, the Predators would seem to be adding at least one more fan for home games. He said Underwood would attend Saturday's game.

"Yeah, oh, yeah," he said. "With bells on -- cheering away."

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