You’re A Good Man, Mike Fisher
As a rabid fan of the Ottawa Senators since returning to Canada in 1997 out of love and loyalty to the city I was born to, I am fully aware and guilty of being engulfed by the playoff atmosphere, by the hype and hope of a bunch of talented, attractive, rich-beyond-words men playing a game. Yes, a game. I realize that it is important for Canada to win the Stanley Cup – which is why I cheered for Calgary and Edmonton during their runs, while I will cheer for every Canadian team who is left year after year to bring her home… but at the end of the season, when the final puck has dropped, the final buzzer goes, the stadium empties and the players go home … it’s just a game.
I remember the Sens mile – the party downtown. The high-fives and horn-honking. The copious amounts of beer I guzzled, the screaming, the pom poms flying, the wind in my hair as I ran down Laurier to get to Elgin Street. I still have the blisters on my heels as a reminder of the night, but what I will forever remember from this weekend is the article in the Citizen about a special little guy named Elgin-Alexander Fraser and a special man named Mike Fisher.
If you follow the link it will lead to a blog with both stories – but just for this blogs sake I will recap for you – Elgin was a 3 year old who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma. One of his wishes was to meet the players – and he did at a practice. He was even on the ice and skated with the team, took a ride in Mike Fisher’s arms, and scored a goal on Ray Emery. This picture was on the front page news of the Ottawa Sun and is probably the most beautiful photograph I’ve ever seen. But the story doesn’t stop there.
Elgin was at game 4, a loss, and met the team again afterwards. As cliché as it is, defenseman Chris Phillips promised the cute little boy that the Sens would win the next game, game 5, in Buffalo. Not an easy feat as both the team and the fans in Buffalo are spectacular. (I would also like to take this moment to apologize on behalf of the stupid, atrocious, disrespectful, disgraceful Ottawa ‘fan’ – most likely fair-weather fan – who assaulted the female Buffalo fan at game 4. Ottawans are really NOT like that at all, at least not true fans. I am disgusted and saddened by that news and I am deeply sorry that it happened).
The day before the team left to play game 5, Mike Fisher visited Elgin at his home – yes, at his home – and stayed for a few hours – yes, a few hours – playing cars and watching movies with the little boy. Imagine that: a superstar with the lady fans and a solid 2-3rd line centre with heart for the male fans, a millionaire … with no press at the time, no cameras, no word until afterwards… going significantly out of his way, above and beyond what was hoped for because he cared. All before heading out to play one of the most important games Mike’ll ever play in his life. But as you know, the Sens did win game 5 – and Elgin managed to hold on to watch them do it. And died only a few hours after.
The story was run on the front pages of the Citizen and Sun – but the majority of it was about little Elgin. There was a tiny blurb of Mike’s visit to Elgin and a quote from Mike saying that it was he who was blessed to spend time with the little boy. I could hear a collective ‘really?’ from the Ottawa fans who knew nothing of his follow up visit to the boy. It is not uncommon to find the team at CHEO visiting sick children, but it IS uncommon to learn that there are some players like Mike Fisher (and Antoine Vermette, who visited a car crash victim in her home and kissed her twice on the cheek) who extend their duties to the community that worships the ground they walk on without making it into a public spectacle.
I met Mike Fisher almost 3 years ago at the Sens At Your Service charity event. Quiet and shy but always polite, we spoke with ease as I tried not to get lost in those baby blues and his gentle drawl of a voice. I liked him back then and my like for him grew from stories of puck bunnies ‘running into’ players at the bar. While the usual suspects were – as anothertwentysomething so eloquently put – dripping skinny beauties, Mike is the silent one, shy even, and you never ever hear of him being a man whore or watch his money disappear up his nose. Instead you see him fishing with his mother or going to church on Sundays. And now you hear this, and I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t help but smile as the tears fell from my eyes.
I doubt that you’ll ever read this Mike – but you are a good man. I respect and fawn over Spezza and Emery as playas (that is not a typo) but you sir I respect as a player and as a man. You are the every day man in a sport that breeds invincible gods and you haven’t let your talent, money and good looks go to your head. Thank you for what you did for Elgin, for the children at CHEO, for the city of Ottawa, and for hockey players all around. You give me hope that there are still good ones out there – even if you (and Vermette) are the only ones*.
*And on that note: I sincerely hope I am wrong.