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'Everybody wins here'

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
He is anything but an ordinary National Hockey League player.

So it figures that Ottawa Senators centre Mike Fisher would put the most special of touches on his new hockey camp, which is wrapping up its three-week run at the Ray Friel Recreation Centre in Orleans on Friday.

Senators centre Mike Fisher takes a break from camp duties with his brother, Bud (left), and father, Jim. who are both part of the team working at the Ray Friel Recreation Centre.
Sure, the 400-plus youngsters in attendance have learned plenty of hockey skills from a player who spent many of his own formative years honing his game in a similar environment. But the benefits go far beyond what’s happened on the ice.

Showing one more time that he’s a leader in the community, Fisher is donating 100 per cent of the proceeds from the camp to Roger’s House, the Make A Wish Foundation and his Mike Fisher Foundation, which supports Roger’s House and other local charities.

When all is said and done, Fisher believes the charities will share a minimum of $100,000, with the total perhaps reaching as high as $150,000.

“I wouldn’t want to do (the camp) if I was making money,” Fisher said during a break in the camp’s activities. “I thought it would be a good idea to partner with a lot of sponsors in the area and try to raise a lot of money for a couple of charities.

“It’s ended up going really well.”

The sponsor group includes Baton Rouge, Palladium Insurance, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, The Synergy Group and

“We’ve had a lot of people kick in,” said Fisher. “Nike’s donated a lot of stuff. That’s really helped out. And Royal Bank has done a great job with the registration.

“We’re looking at a minimum (donation) of $100,000. Hopefully, closer to ($150,000) but we’ll see how it turns out. We’re really not sure yet. We’re still trying to get some more sponsors.”

Fisher, a heart-and-soul player for the Senators, has also insisted that the camp teach youngsters more than just hockey skills.

“We want them to learn a lot about hockey. That’s important,” said Fisher. ‘But we want them to learn off the ice about competing and having a good attitude. Being positive and always trying to get better, not only as a player but as a person.

“And (we want to provide a chance to learn) a lot of different things, like life skills in the classroom, that they can go over and learn from, and make a difference that way for the kids.”

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson lent a hand as a guest instructor at the first Mike Fisher Hockey Camp in Orleans.
He’s also received help from plenty of his NHL friends. Senators teammates Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Chris Neil, Chris Kelly, Shean Donovan and Luke Richardson have all made appearances as guest instructors, along with former Senator and Ottawa native Todd White.

“I’m thankful to have some of the guys come out to help out,” said Fisher. “It makes a difference.”

The seeds for the camp were first planted last summer and Fisher credits his brother, Bud, for sowing the idea.

“He was a goalie instructor who showed up last year at a camp and didn’t have a job,” said Fisher, a 28-year-old native of Peterborough, Ont. “He thought he did but something happened and he didn’t have a job, so he came to me that day and said ‘we’re starting a camp.’ That way, he was assured of a job.”

Fisher can't help grinning by the time he finishes the story. The two brothers are indeed enjoying their time together as is proud father Jim, who’s also helped throughout.

“It’s a great opportunity, having Mike and Bud working together,” said Jim Fisher. “It makes it sort of a family time.”

“It’s been fun,” said Mike. “We don’t always have a ton of time to be around each other, so it’s fun for them to be here and around the (kids). We’ve been having a great time.”

It also takes them back to a much more youthful, innocent time.

“Mike attended hockey schools on a regular basis as a camper and then as a counsellor and an instructor,” said Jim Fisher. “So it brings back memories.”

The Fishers enlisted the help of Scott and Shannon McNevan – two experienced hockey camp instructors from the Peterborough area – to get things rolling. Scott is the camp’s director, while Shannon oversees the on-ice programs.

“I’ve known them for a long time and they’ve been around camps for a long time,” said Fisher. “It was just kind of a good fit and we thought we could put something together.”

Now there’s already talk of expanding the camp to a fourth week next summer. Giving more youngsters a chance to grow as players and as people. And further extending a helping hand into the community.

“It’s a great opportunity to help out the kids and give them some hockey instruction,” observed Jim Fisher. “And the really neat thing is that all the proceeds are going to charity.

"So I think everybody wins here.”

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