SAY­ING GOOD­BYE

Nashville pro­tected cap­tain’s ros­ter spot, hop­ing to get him back

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Nashville Preda­tors for­ward Mike Fisher has re­tired in what he calls the hard­est de­ci­sion he’s had to make, leav­ing the de­fend­ing Stan­ley Cup fi­nal­ists in need of a new cap­tain.

The 37-year-old Fisher said in a let­ter to Preda­tors fans that “I know I’ve made the right one.”

Fisher had 276 goals and 309 as­sists in 1,088 reg­u­lar-sea­son games dur­ing an Na­tional Hockey League ca­reer that lasted 17 sea­sons. He had 23 goals and 28 as­sists in 13 ca­reer play­off games.

He be­gan his ca­reer with the Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors be­fore get­ting traded to Nashville in 2011.

Fisher was cho­sen the Preda­tors’ cap­tain in Septem­ber 2016. He had 18 goals and 24 as­sists last sea­son as Nashville earned its first Western Con­fer­ence ti­tle. He’s also hus­band to coun­try star Car­rie Un­der­wood, and they have a son to­gether.

“I ap­proached this sea­son with the mind­set that it could be my last, and now that it’s past, I’m look­ing for­ward to a fu­ture that in­cludes a lot more time with my fam­ily,” Fisher wrote. “Things change when you have kids and you have a fam­ily. They’ve sup­ported me with­out ques­tion, and now it’s my turn to re­turn the favour.”

Fisher’s last game was Game 6 of the Stan­ley Cup Fi­nals, a 2-0 loss to Pittsburgh.

“Know­ing we were so close to win­ning it all in June only makes it more dif­fi­cult to leave it be­hind, but I do so with hope. End­ings are al­ways tough, but I be­lieve when some­thing ends, there are new be­gin­nings, new op­por­tu­ni­ties and new things to be ex­cited for, too,” Fisher wrote.

“I be­lieve that this team, that this city, is go­ing to win a cham­pi­onship, and I’m go­ing to be the big­gest fan. No one will be hap­pier than I will be to see it hap­pen, be­cause, th­ese fans, they de­serve it.”

For­ward James Neal, ac­quired from Nashville by Las Ve­gas in the June ex­pan­sion draft, thanked Fisher on In­sta­gram for all he taught him on and off the ice.

“Your lead­er­ship and friend­ship al­lowed our team to bring an en­tire city to­gether in our quest for the Stan­ley Cup ... and that will al­ways be one of the great­est mem­o­ries of my life,” Neal said. “Con­grat­u­la­tions on an in­cred­i­ble ca­reer, but the great­est mark on your re­sume is the Man you are one of the best ex­am­ples of hard work, in­tegrity, hu­mil­ity and class. We’ll all miss you!!!

The Preds had wanted Fisher back. While wait­ing for the cap­tain’s de­ci­sion, gen­eral man­ager David Poile made sure to pro­tect the ros­ter by sign­ing cen­tre Nick Bonino away from the Pen­guins. Poile also signed for­ward Scott Hart­nell for vet­eran lead­er­ship.

Now Nashville will have to pick a new cap­tain for a sec­ond straight year. Fisher was named the sev­enth cap­tain in team his­tory last sum­mer af­ter the Preda­tors traded de­fence­man Shea Weber to Montreal for de­fence­man P.K. Sub­ban.

De­fence­man Ro­man Josi, who will be go­ing into his sev­enth sea­son with the fran­chise, is a top can­di­date.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Nashville Preda­tors for­ward Mike Fisher is hon­oured for his 1,000th NHL game in March 2016. Pic­tured with Fisher is his wife, singer Car­rie Un­der­wood, and their son, Isa­iah.

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