Those of you who predicted before the season that Jason Spezza would play his way off the Canadian Olympic team and Mike Fisher would play onto it, go to the front of the class and collect your gold star.
Fisher still faces some real challenges, but talk of him playing his way onto the Canadian team’s radar has gone beyond idle chatter. And the way he continues to play, that’s as it should be.
When you think about it, Fisher would be an excellent choice to be the team’s 13th forward, because in that role you need a player who’s versatile and Fisher is nothing if not multi-talented this season. On Monday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Fisher scored his 14th goal of the season to surpass his total from last season and cleanly won a key faceoff in the final seconds that would have resulted in a tie score had Alexei Kovalev not missed the net.
And that’s exactly what the Canadian Olympic team should be seeking in its 13th man – a player who can play any forward position, kill penalties, win faceoffs, play a physical game and contribute offensively when needed. Fisher can tick off each of those with his play this season.
“I’m definitely not competing against the (Sidney) Crosbys and (Joe) Thorntons as far as offensive guys,” Fisher said. “I would definitely be a role guy, a physical guy. I think that’s what I do best, but it’s up to them. It would be awesome, but who knows?”
And there’s little doubt Fisher is making that decision far more vexing as players continue to jockey for a coveted Olympic position. If Fisher can continue to play at his current high level for the next two weeks, it will make for an interesting decision for Steve Yzerman and the others making decisions for Team Canada. The way Fisher has played, it certainly wouldn’t be outrageous to suggest he can help Team Canada and that he would deserve to be there.
All of which should make the next fortnight interesting for Fisher. He acknowledges it’s difficult to ignore the fact he is now seriously playing for a job.
“A month ago I wasn’t thinking about it, but now people are asking me, so you start thinking about it for sure,” Fisher said. “That’s human. I think anyone would. But I just have to keep playing because the only thing I can control is how I play.”
This article also appeared in the Ottawa Metro newspaper.
Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear Wednesdays and Fridays and his column, Campbell’s Cuts, appears Mondays.
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