Mike Fisher ends NHL retirement to rejoin Predators
Veteran forward, 37, helped Nashville to Stanley Cup Final last season
The Nashville Predators are getting an offensive boost from an unexpected source a month before the NHL trade deadline.
Mike Fisher, 37, is back in the fold, just six months after making the "hardest decision" to retire after 17 seasons in the league.
"I believe this team is built to win and has 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," Fisher said at Wednesday's news conference. "But we didn't win last year, and it was the best time in my career and we didn't win. So I believe that this year can be our year, and that's why I want to be a part of and have some fun."
Mike Fisher IS BACK. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Preds?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Preds</a> <a href="https://t.co/IkOP23VCdn">https://t.co/IkOP23VCdn</a>—@PredsNHL
Nashville was second in the Central Division entering play Wednesday, three points behind the Winnipeg Jets with three games in hand, and ranks fifth overall with a 29-12- record.
Fisher started skating Wednesday and will spend the next few weeks working himself into shape to rejoin the team. Fisher has not signed a contract yet, and general manager David Poile said they will sign Fisher officially at some point before the Feb. 26 trade deadline for the stretch run in what he called one of his better moves.
Poile believes Fisher has some unfinished business and wants to help the Predators win two more games than they did last year when they lost the Stanley Cup Final in six games to Pittsburgh . The current leadership with defenceman Roman Josi as captain will not change.
4th-line role likely
"All this is really for getting ready for the playoffs," Poile said.
What his role will be remains to be seen. The Predators signed centre Nick Bonino in free agency and landed centre Kyle Turris in November from Ottawa in a three-way trade. With Ryan Johansen centring the top line, the fourth line is the likeliest spot for Fisher.
He knows our system, he knows everything. ... It's just a matter of getting back in skating shape and stuff.— Predators defenceman P.K. Subban on Mike Fisher rejoining team out of retirement
Fisher played seven seasons with the club, scoring 109 goals and 237 points. The former captain had 18 goals and 42 points in 72 games in 2016-17, leading Nashville to the Western Conference title.
Fisher, who has 23 goals and 51 points in 134 NHL playoff games, will try to help the Predators to a fourth consecutive post-season berth.
Defenceman P.K. Subban said he is excited to have Fisher back and expects a quick transition for the forward once he joins the team.
"He knows our system, he knows everything," Subban said. "I think that's the thing. When you go and get someone from somewhere else, it's tough. There's an adjustment period. You got to come in and learn our system. … He's been playing under Lavi [coach Peter Laviolette] for a few years, knows our system. It's just a matter of getting back in skating shape and stuff."
Laviolette said the dressing room door remained open to Fisher for practices and games. The Predators started talking in December about what they might need with a possible return by Fisher at the top of the possibilities. Fisher, who had a hunting show last fall and was building a house, said he started talking with his family about a potential return.
Fisher, who hails from Peterborough, Ont., amassed 276 goals and 585 points in his first 1,088 NHL regular-season games after breaking into the league in the 1999-2000 campaign with Ottawa, which drafted Fisher 44th overall in 1998.
In 11 seasons with the Senators, the husband to country music star Carrie Underwood recorded 167 goals and 348 points.
With files from The Associated Press