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Mike Fisher savoring Stanley Cup Final run as Predators captain

Center cherishing opportunity to face Penguins for championship while enjoying leadership role

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NASHVILLE -- You'd think by now that Mike Fisher would be used to life in the spotlight.

The Nashville Predators center has played 17 seasons in the NHL and has been married to country music star Carrie Underwood for nearly seven years. Fisher and the Predators had some trouble initially, though, after he was named captain before the start of the season.

"It was an adjustment for me at the start of the year," Fisher said. "I learned a lot this year. It was probably the most I've learned just about what it takes as a group to get everyone together on the same page. It's been the most fun I've had, too."

 

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Reaching the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in his career has been the highlight so far. The Predators trail the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 in the best-of-7 series heading into Game 4 at Bridgestone Arena on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVA Sports) but are feeling better about themselves after their 5-1 win in Game 3 on Saturday.

Getting another win Monday would be the prefect way for Fisher to celebrate his 37th birthday.

"This whole run for me and having this city come together and this group and what it's been able to do makes me proud to be able to be a captain in this run," Fisher said. "But it takes all different types and I'm fortunate to be in this position. I've been around a long time and I've been blessed to be able to play this game for that long and be in this situation. I just consider myself fortunate."

The Predators entered this series with Fisher as their lone player with previous Stanley Cup Final experience. That came in 2007, when Fisher and the Ottawa Senators lost to the Anaheim Ducks in five games.

It was a long road for Fisher to make it back to this point, including his trade from the Senators to the Predators on Feb. 10, 2011, for what might be his final chance at winning the Stanley Cup. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and his future with the Predators is uncertain, so he's making sure to cherish the opportunity.

"I'm getting up there, for sure and I know how hard it is," Fisher said. "It was 10 years ago the last time I was able to get there, and I've been on some great teams, too. So I realize that and I'm trying to enjoy it the best I can, but also just give it everything I've got and try to help this team the best I can and lead in the best way."

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Predators coach Peter Laviolette noted that Fisher "had good-sized shoes to fill" when he was named successor to defenseman Shea Weber as captain. Weber became the face of the Predators during his 11 seasons in Nashville and then was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for an even bigger personality in defenseman P.K. Subban on June 29, 2016.

The blockbuster trade sent shockwaves through the organization that the Predators were still dealing with when the season began. Some of that was dropped into Fisher's lap as captain.

The Predators went 2-5-1 in their first eight games and were 17-16-7 after their first 40, but found more consistency in their play over the second half of the regular season and carried it over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Although Fisher hasn't had a big impact offensively with three assists -- all in the Stanley Cup Final -- in 17 games this postseason, Laviolette does not discount the impact Fisher has had.

"He's done a terrific job of taking a team that we talked about at the beginning of the year," Laviolette said. "We needed to find our places and find out how we were going to move from day to day and win hockey games, not necessarily him, but our group in general. Inside of that, you need the one guy that's at the head of the bus making sure.

"He's always been that guy. I think we figured it out behind him. Players really started to grab hold. I think that started to show most at the end of the season."

The perfect ending to the story for Fisher would be him raising the Stanley Cup at end of this series and bringing a championship to a city he plans to remain a big part of after his playing days are over.

"It's where we want to raise our family," he said. "It's an amazing city and the people are unbelievable. We have so many great friends here, a great church and our family loves visiting, obviously. So it's become a special place for us and we plan on being here a long time."

He might not ever get used to life in the spotlight, though.

"My wife gets more attention than me, which I'm OK with too," Fisher said. "I just kind of hide and put her out there."

Video: Subban asks Fisher some questions of his own

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