Thursday, February 09, 2012

He Returns Today

Mike Fisher's time as an Ottawa Senator ended on February 10th, 2011, so it's quite ironic that his first trip back to the city he grew as a person and as a player will be almost a year to the day he was vanished from the nation's capital. Today is the 9th of February and if you're counting, is one day shy of the exact date he was traded to Nashville.

His time here was a mixed bag. He was one of the most loved players and one of the most frustrating at the same time, but his impact went beyond just being a hockey player. In some ways he was almost as popular as Alfie and that's saying a lot.

There is little doubt to me that Fisher will receive a massive standing ovation when he's mentioned at some point. Who knows, the game may even have to be stopped for a minute to allow for the fans to shower ol' blue eyes with their admiration of the 31 year old. Hell I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him shed a tear even. One thing is very clear. Ottawa loves Fisher and he loves Ottawa. So why did they part?

Well it wasn't Fisher's choice but the season and franchise was going down in flames and someone had to be moved and he was the most expendable. He had value beyond hockey, especially to a city and team like Nashville for obvious reasons. The Sens didn't have many valuable assets and in the name of a rebuild Fisher was sacrificed. It was the right move, even if it wasn't the most popular one. Some fans still haven't forgiven the Sens management for trading him away. I suspect they will be there tomorrow, putting dollars in the same management's pockets.

But as a year has passed and he returns for the first time, we reflect on the deal and wasn't the trade good for everyone involved? The Senators got younger and got draft picks for a rebuild. The Preds got an aggressive forward with scoring potential and the benefits of him being married to a country superstar in a massive country market. And Fisher, well he got to move to his wife's hometown and a fresh start with a team with a lot of potential. You rarely find a trade that benefits everyone, but I think this is the rare one that did.

I was in Nashville this November for a week and I can see why Fisher would like it there, since I found it to be a lot like Ottawa. It's a big enough city, but not huge. It's clean and easy to walk around. It even has a body of water going through the city like we do. Broadway Street right outside Bridgestone Arena could double for Elgin street, filled with bars, clubs and restaurants. Nashville is the American Ottawa.

I say all that to say this. I was never a huge Fisher fan. I was happy when he was traded. It was nothing personal, but I just couldn't handle his slumps and lack of criticism he would receive. It was like he got special treatment all the time. This was by no fault of his own really, but more of an indication of our media and fanbase, who seemed to treat him with kid gloves.

He hasn't scored in 20 games? Must be someone else's fault. He plays hard and is the heart of this team they'd say. It could never be Mike Fisher's fault. I couldn't stand it. Once again it is nothing personal. I've met him 10 times and had conversations with him and he is a very nice guy. I am not criticizing his character by any means, but his time had come and he had to go. This is a results based league and he wasn't earning his money anymore.

And you know what? It worked out well for both teams. Nashville sits in 5th place in the west as I write this and the surprising Sens, who have lost 7 in a row at the moment, are clinging to 8th place in the east. Both are playoff teams, at least for now.

Ottawa and Fisher had some great times together, like his 2OT winner against the Leafs in the playoffs and I will always remember him fondly. But like an ex girlfriend, you moved on for a reason. Sure it's nice to run into them every so often and reminisce about the good old times, but ultimately you know you made the right decision. That's how I feel about Fisher. No hard feelings, we can be civil, but I'm not giving you another chance. You play for someone else now and I wish you the best, but you were an important part of my life for awhile, so even though it was love and hate, tonight I will at SBP with the other 20,000 being a part of the welcoming you back with open arms because it's the right thing to do. Until puck drops that is.

No comments: