Thursday afternoon, the Predators officially announced that Mike Fisher will wear the ‘C’ this season making him the sixth full-time captain in franchise history.
Fisher being named captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise by any means. He has spent the last four seasons as an alternate captain for the Predators and when looking up and down the roster, the 36-year-old certainly stands out as an obvious choice to step into the shoes left behind by Shea Weber.
Fisher has the second most NHL games played among active Predators with 1,016 with 341 of those coming in a Nashville sweater. Mike Ribeiro tops the Preds’ active roster with 1,028 NHL games played.
Only two Nashville skaters have played more games as a Predator than Fisher with Colin Wilson leading the bunch with 432 games played and Craig Smith with 359 games played. Pekka Rinne has suited up for Nashville 447 times.
So, when you throw in the fact that he has been an alternate captain for four seasons alongside his body of work the decision already jumps out as a smart and even obvious pick. Let’s also not forget that he has 91 goals and 104 assists in 341 games with Nashville while seeing time on the first, second and third-line on top of being relied upon on the man advantage and the penalty kill.
We can even look at this in the simplest of terms and come out with the same answer of ‘this makes sense’. The Predators have had three faces of the franchise over the last five or so seasons: Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber and Fisher. Weber is now a Montreal Canadien, Rinne can’t wear the ‘C’ so that leaves Fisher. While that is an extremely simple and elementary way of looking at it, it’s tough to argue.
While the aforementioned numbers and simple ideas lay out the foundation of why the Preds went with the most obvious and fitting player to take on the role of captain, there is one reason why the decision doesn’t make sense.
Fisher has just one year left on his contract meaning that Nashville could be going through this same process in another 365 days.
If you look at it from only that perspective, the decision doesn’t make a lot of sense. Why name a player that may possibly retire after this season your captain, regardless of how long he’s been a team leader.
That leads to the idea that maybe we don’t know something that Nashville management and Fisher do, and that is that Fisher and the Preds may already have an understanding that he has another year or two left in the tank.
We’re now back to the it making sense part.
Whether or not Fisher will retire after this season is entirely unknown at this point, but let’s say he does. David Poile, Peter Laviolette and staff certainly have that thought in their mind as a possibility and know that they may have to do this entire charade again next summer but at the end of the day this decision still makes much more sense than not.
Here is a scenario: You walk into the Predators’ locker room five weeks before the season starts. You get to pick one skater in the room to wear the ‘C’ for just this season to show leadership in the room not only for himself and the team but to mold younger players like P.K. Subban, Ryan Ellis, James Neal, Roman Josi, Ryan Johansen, Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg for when one of them step into the spotlight and likely become captain the following season.
Your decision is easy, it’s Fisher.
The average age of the group of players just mentioned is 25.6. Leave out the 29-year-old Neal and the number drops to 25.
Sure, there are other players on the Predators’ roster that are more than ready to take on a leadership role, but why not allow Fisher - a proven veteran leader and face of the franchise - mold the younger players just one more season making them that much more ready to step into the role of captain for years to come.