A Hope and a Future
Ottawa Senator Mike Fisher, part of the team's bright
future, has hope in something besides hockey.
by Lois Thomson
You really can't blame Ottawa Senators fans for being
a little disgruntled during the offseason. After all,
for the past 2 years their team finished near the top
of the NHL standings, and both times they were defeated
by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the
playoffslast year in four straight games. And
then this past summer, Alexei Yashinthe franchise's
first overall entry draft pickwas traded to the
New York Islanders following a bitter contract dispute.
So why should the fans look forward to the future?
Well, why not?
They picked up two solid playersZdeno Chara and
Bill Muckaltand a first-round draft choice in
2001 from the Islanders in exchange for Yashin, and
they have a lot of young, quality players.
Like 21-year-old Mike Fisher.
The 6' 1", 193-pound Fisher, who played his junior
hockey in Sudbury, Ontario, in the Ontario Hockey League,
was Ottawa's second-round draft pick in 1998. Before
joining the Senators in 1999, he played an additional
year in Sudbury and finished the season with 100 points.
Unfortunately, the fans haven't had much chance to see
what he can do in the NHL.
Fisher suffered two injuries in his first two seasons
with the Senators, injuries that forced him to miss
a considerable amount of playing time. In a December
1999 game against Boston, he took a hit on the inside
of his knee and missed the rest of the year after having
reconstructive surgery on his ACL. He played in just
32 games. Then last season, he sat out 22 contests with
a shoulder injury that occurred in a match-up against
the New York Rangers. On October 22, 2001, he played
in his 100th game for the Sens.
It's frustrating for a young player to miss so much
time so early in his career, but Fisher has handled
it well. "My faith has been pretty instrumental
through it all," he says. "I made the Ottawa
Senators at the age of 19. I didn't expect to make it
that young, and everything was looking great. But then
[the injuries] happened and it makes you understand
that Jesus is really in charge. It's like He says, 'You
don't take the reins, I do.' He's really in charge of
my career and my life. And with Jesus on your side,
He's there for you, to comfort you."
Fisher placed his faith in Christ at a young age. "I
grew up in a Christian family. We went to church every
Sunday," he recalls. "When I was 6 years old,
I made the step of faith to accept Him into my heart.
I remember I prayed with my mom before I went to school.
I didn't want to wait any longer."
Fisher said his faith helped to sustain him when he
left his home in Peterborough, Ontario, at age 17 to
play hockey in Sudbury. "It was tough moving away.
I didn't have any Christian friends on the team, and
I didn't live with a Christian family. But I grew up
in such a great familythey were very instrumental
in my life. When you get older, you have to make your
own decisions. You have to learn for yourself what's
important. And they really helped influence me from
an early age.
"When I look back on my hockey careerand
I don't have to look back too far because I'm not that
old," he adds with a chuckle, "you think of
the highlights like getting your first goal or your
first win, and you think that's neat. But I know the
most important thing for me is having my faith."
Heading into only his third season, Fisher hasn't experienced
too many surprises in the NHL. "The main difference
is that in junior hockey I was going to school with
my teammates. But here, a lot of guys are married and
have families, so on off days they want to get away
and spend time with them."
"The past few years have been a learning experience
for me," Fisher says. "Toward the end of last
season I was playing a little better. I scored quite
a few points in Junior and I'm hoping to get more this
year. But coming into the NHL at 19, I didn't expect
to pick up a lot of points right away."
With Yashin gone, the Senators are left with only one
centerRadek Bonkwith any considerable experience.
But Fisher was looking forward to the chance to prove
himself. "I'm definitely excited," he said
before the season started. "It was sad to see such
a great player leave the team, but I guess it was inevitable.
And it's a good opportunity for me. We have Bonk, who
is probably Number 1 now, and we got Jason Spezza in
the draft. So maybe I'm Number 2." Indeed, that
is where Fisher appears on the Senators' depth chart
Ottawa selected Spezza with the draft pick they got
from the Islanders in exchange for Yashin. Rated the
Number 1 North American skater and ranked second overall
by The Hockey News, the 18-year-old Spezza has a lot
Fisher, however, is content to trust his future to
the Lord. "One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah
29:11," he says. " 'For I know the plans I
have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper
you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and
a future.' It's great having God to rely on, knowing
He has a plan for us. We don't have to worry what's
going to go on in our future or what's going to happen
down the road. God's Word also says, 'Do not worry about
tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each
day has enough troubles of its own' " (Matthew
"You just have to play your hardest, and if you're
on God's team, that's the only team that's important."
Then he quickly adds, "And Ottawa too."
Senators fans can be happy about that.
Freelance writer Lois Thomson lives in Pittsburgh.
Copyright © 2002 Sports Spectrum.
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