Mike Fisher finds an unlikely sense of familiarity in something completely different.
Traded for the first time in his NHL career, which began in 1999, he went from the only team he’s known, the Ottawa Senators, to a place he knows very well — and has a home.
“If I had to bet, honestly I thought I would be staying [in Ottawa],” the Nashville Predators’ newest member said Friday morning in a conference call with North American media. “But this is a great opportunity for me, and I’m really looking forward to it.
“It couldn’t have worked out any better.”
The 30-year-old center, who is married to country music star Carrie Underwood, is expected to make his Predators’ debut Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche (7 p.m.). It will be his first for a team other than the Senators, for whom he played 675 regular season contests and scored 348 career points.
In addition to maintaining a local residence, Fisher said he and his wife also have a church home in Middle Tennessee. He also knows some of this new teammates, having spent time with them in the offseason.
All of that means he won’t be confronted with most of the off-ice issues that typically accompany a trade and can serve as distractions for a player, particularly at such a critical time of the year. His focus will be on fitting in to a team that — as of the start of play Friday — was in fifth place in the Western Conference standings, just four points ahead of the ninth and 10th-place teams.
“It’s definitely going to be a weird transition for me,” Fisher said. “I just have to focus on what I do. I think the way I play is a good fit for them. There’s a reason I’m here and I’m just ready to get started on Saturday.
“Nashville is such a great team. There’s a lot of good young guys, they play a good, solid team game, they have a great young goalie and a good coaching staff that has them playing the right way. Those are things you need to be successful.”
The Predators, who gave up this year’s first-round draft pick and a conditional one in 20102 on Thursday to get Fisher, expect he not only will help them reach the postseason for the sixth time in seven years but will make a difference as the team looks to get beyond the first round for the first time.
Fisher has appeared in 75 playoff contests, which include games in the 2007 Stanley Cup finals and the 2003 Eastern Conference finals.
“The playoffs are all about intensity and playing a good solid team game,” Fisher said. “It’s not as much about superstars. It’s about who wants it more and sticks to team play. I think I can help in that I bring experience having been to the playoffs quite a few times.
“I think Nashville’s ready to break through and make a good playoff run, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”