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Fisher plans to end retirement, rejoin Predators

37-year-old spent past seven seasons with Nashville

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / Staff Writer

Mike Fisher took the first step to returning as an active NHL player Wednesday when the center was on the ice at Bridgestone Arena with the intent of signing a contract and returning to the Nashville Predators before the NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 26.

Fisher, 37, played the past seven seasons with the Predators and was Nashville's captain last season, when they made their first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.

After Fisher skated, he appeared at a news conference to announce his plans, along with Predators general manager David Poile and coach Peter Laviolette.

"I'm all in," Fisher said. "I believe this team is built to win. We have a very good chance. So that is part of the reason why I want to come back and compete and be a part of it. We didn't win last year and it was the best time of my career.

"I believe this year can be our year. That's what I want to be a part of and have some fun."

Video: Fisher takes to the ice as he returns from retirement

The final decision to return apparently was made over the weekend. Fisher has been skating on his own but there is no timetable for his return to the lineup. Fisher's most recent NHL game was Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on June 11, and he realizes it is going to take time to get in game shape.

"I met with the players this morning for a few minutes and they're all over the top about Mike coming back," Poile said. "This is a huge day."

Laviolette said, "There's an awful lot of respect from everybody in the organization, from management to coaches to players about Mike, who he is as a person and a player and having him back in the mix."

Tweet from @carrieunderwood: This is happening! Fish is back! So proud of you, baby! We want the cup!!!

Fisher has 585 points (276 goals, 309 assists) in 1,088 games in 17 seasons with the Ottawa Senators, who selected him in the second round (No. 44) of the 1998 NHL Draft, and the Predators.

Fisher's first appearance in the Stanley Cup Final was with the Senators in 2007, when Ottawa lost to the Anaheim Ducks in five games. It took him 10 years and a move to Nashville to get back to the Final.

"It's something that was special last year and something you'll never forget," Fisher said. "We want to do that again and then some this year, for sure."

The Predators (29-12-7) trail the Winnipeg Jets by three points for first place in the Central Division. Their next game is against the Los Angeles Kings at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV).

Fisher announced his retirement Aug. 3. He had been debating whether to continue playing after his contract expired.

"We accepted that," Poile said of Fisher's decision to retire. "We understand that. We respect that. But I think, at least in my gut, I thought maybe there would be a chance or maybe he would change his mind at some point."

Poile wasn't the only one who kept hoping for a change of heart. Laviolette, in conversations with Fisher leading up to the decision, wisely didn't make it a yes-or-no situation.

"I just wanted to put it out there, to let him know 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 David," Laviolette said.

Video: The crew discuss Mike Fisher rejoining the Predators

Fisher has scored 20 goals or more six times; his NHL high is 25, with the Senators in 2009-10, when he had 53 points, his best offensive season in the League.

He was traded to the Predators for Nashville's first-round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft and its third-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Fisher is married to country music star Carrie Underwood. He had conversations with family and friends about the decision and joked that his 3-year-old son was not in favor of his return.

"Carrie, she kept asking me almost every day what I was going to do," Fisher said. "She wanted me to do it. She's usually right."

Fisher kept himself busy in retirement.

"I'm seeing all these pictures of him deer hunting, so I'm thinking he's relatively happy," Poile said. "To make a long story short, we reached out to Mike and there were a few conversations.

"At the end of the day, Roman Josi, our captain, met with Mike and had a conversation. I'm sure it was a combination of a lot of things to get Mike over the hump to make this decision."

Fisher said that when he made his decision in August he was sure retirement was the best move for him.

"I never really thought it was a possibility," he said. "After I retired, I was done. It was the right decision then."

Something started to change around the holidays.

"You get antsy at times because you're used to competition and you're used to being around the guys all the time," Fisher said. "It's different. I guess come Christmas that's when I started to miss the game and that's when it kind of hit me.

"Like I said, it's good to be back."

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