The first captain of the Nashville Predators knew he was undertaking quite a responsibility when he was named the franchise’s first captain on July 6, 1998. Not only did he have to be the voice of the team, but he had to help mentor the prospects in the system, helping them blossom into the NHL’s elite.
“It was a fantastic honor, and my proudest moment as a player to be named captain,” Fitzgerald said. “For David Poile, Barry Trotz and Craig Leipold to think of me in that regard to lead a young team in the right direction was a tremendous honor. I held wearing the ‘C’ in high esteem and I am thankful for that, and the Predator organization. To see them grow to where they are now, I’d like to think I had a hand in that – watching the growth of guys like Legwand, Hartnell and Timonen. It taught me a lot about winning championships from within.”
Fitzgerald played 307 games in four seasons with the team from 1998-2002 as part of a 1,097-game career which spanned 17 seasons from 1988-2006. Under his watch, the Predators made giant strides toward the playoff team they would become in 2004 – the pillars of that team went from prospects to team leaders. He also pitched 42 goals and 88 points in his Preds tenure.
Upon retiring, the Billerica , Mass., native went to work for his hometown Bruins, one of seven teams he played for, as a television analyst on the New England Sports Network. In the summer of 2007, “Fitzy” headed to the front office, now serving as Director of Player Development for the Pittsburgh Penguins.