In a lot of eyes, he’ll always be that fresh-faced young player who brings an abundance of energy every time he’s on the ice.
So when you hear Mike Fisher suggest — in a joking tone, mind you — that “I’m no spring chicken anymore,” it’s easy to quickly dismiss such a thought. And at age 30, the Ottawa Senators centre is far from the end of the line in National Hockey League terms.
But the fact that Fisher is now in his 11th season with the team… even that seems a little much to fathom for a guy who, along with captain Daniel Alfredsson
and defenceman Chris Phillips
, forms the Senators’ veteran core.
“It sure has gone fast, that’s for sure,” Fisher said when asked about his longevity in Ottawa. “It seems like almost yesterday that I was coming in here as a young guy. Then before you know it, it’s 11 years later. You don’t realize how fast it goes.
“I think it makes you appreciate playing in this game. I’ve been blessed to be able to stay in Ottawa. I love it here. It’s become like my second home. I feel very fortunate.”
Truth be told, Fisher had a sense this was the right place to be right from that June day in Buffalo, when the Senators made him their second-round pick (44th overall) in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft.
“I had lots of relatives there,” Fisher said in recalling a day that is special for every aspiring young hockey player. “An aunt and uncle from Ottawa, they were there. My family is from Peterborough. So when my name was called by Ottawa, I was pretty excited to be coming (to a team) so close to home. I think my whole family was, too. It was one of my teams that I would have loved to have (been drafted by) and it worked out.”
Fisher joined the Senators as a 19-year-old, admittedly in awe of players such as Alfredsson, Marian Hossa and Alexei Yashin, who were the team’s stars when he first arrived on the scene. Only Alfredsson and Phillips remain from Fisher’s first Senators team and now he’s one of the guys the younger generation looks up to for advice and guidance.
“I like being in a leadership role,” said Fisher. “It doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still learn and grow and do a lot of different things better. I’m still trying to do that. At this point in my career, I know I still have a lot more in me and I don’t want to leave anything behind when it’s all said and done.”
There might be nobody better than Fisher to tell the next crop of Senators how good life can be in Ottawa — not that he imagined it all playing out this way. Fans still adore him and his tireless work with Roger’s House and other charities has made him a community icon. Life got even better during the summer when Fisher married country music superstar Carrie Underwood in a lavish Georgia wedding.
“You never really know what life is going to bring sometimes,” said Fisher. “But I’m very fortunate to be in the league this long and to play for Ottawa.… I love playing here every night. The fans have been really good to me and I’m grateful for that. Hopefully, I can call it home for the rest of my career. That would be ideal.”