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Fisher proves he's NHL worthy to Sens
Friday, November 5, 1999

Senators rookie centre Mike Fisher cleared the third hurdle of his NHL career last night.

The first came last month when he played in his first big-league game. The second was Sunday in Atlanta when he scored his first goal.

Last night, he played his 10th NHL game, which is a benchmark for junior-aged prospects who start the season with a big-league club.

Even if Fisher, a 19-year-old native of Peterborough, was sent back to his junior team today, the 10 games in the NHL would basically count as a full professional season.

That has implications in pension eligibility and salary arbitration. It also means the Senators would have to protect Fisher in the waiver draft after the end of next season.

If the Senators had sent Fisher back to the OHL's Sudbury Wolves before last night's game, he wouldn't be eligible for waivers until the end of 2001-2002. Now he can be claimed if left unprotected at the end of next season.

Fisher played down the 10th game significance, even though it means he'll probably be sticking around for awhile.

"I still have to play the way I've been playing, or even better, than in the first nine games," he said. "I'm happy to be here."

Fisher has four points during his first nine games and was taking a regular shift. He was scratched from just one game in October, after missing three with a hip pointer injury.

"He's brought an element of speed and quickness to our team," said coach Jacques Martin. "He's very good on the puck and he does a very good job forechecking."

Martin said Fisher isn't being fast-tracked into the NHL because the Sens are without centre Alexei Yashin or depleted by injuries.

"It's not so much how we are, but what's best for the development of his career."

The Senators appear ready to keep Fisher in Ottawa, but the option is available to send him to the Canadian junior team in December.

"My main priority was to make (the Senators)," he said. "But the world junior is a pretty big thing for sure. I've never had a chance to play for my country before."

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