Last night I received an email from Neate Sager who writes the fantastic Buzzing the Net junior hockey blog for Yahoo! Sports. He asked me a simple question related to a February 18th article that was written in the Wall Street Journal by Scott Cacciola, was this really the Fisher reaction?
My response: Oh, hells no. It’s a simplistic and lazy piece of writing that manipulates some quotes and facts to portray Ottawa as some spiteful and jaded backwater town. For the purposes of this site, I’ve reposted Cacciola’s article below and as always, my thoughts will be in bold.
More after the jump…
Last week, the Ottawa Senators traded Mike Fisher, one of the team’s most popular players, to the Nashville Predators for a pair of draft picks.
A pair of picks? Although it’s a minor factual detail that is wrong (only one of the draft picks is guaranteed), it’s the first sentence of the article and is a preface of things to come.
It would have been a sad day under any circumstances—Mr. Fisher, a ruggedly handsome Ontario native, had played in Ottawa his entire career.
But because Fisher is man candy and played his entire professional career with the Senators it hurt just that much more. So much so, that news of his trade caused Zenon Konopka to tear down a poster of Fisher from his bedroom wall.
But this wasn’t just any cold-blooded hockey transaction: The trade to Nashville allowed Mr. Fisher to share a roof with his new wife, country superstar Carrie Underwood.
The news of Mr. Fisher’s departure smacked Canada’s capital city with the force of a snowplow. Since the couple began dating, the Oklahoma-born Ms. Underwood had become a regular at Scotiabank Place. The pair easily muscled aside Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife, Laureen, as Ottawa’s “it” couple. “It was like our version of Prince William and what’s-her-face,” says Gayle Zarbatany, an Ottawa radio executive.
An illusion to a snowplow? What, no unoriginal stereotype that all Canadians live in igloos? (Note: Igloos, Scotiabank Place, Fisher and Underwood’s 5,500 square foot home that is under construction just outside of Carp — all structures that feature roofs that people can share.)
More importantly, if you’re a KISS FM radio executive/publicity whore who is primarily responsible for imposing the ban on Carrie Underwood songs, you might want to brush up on the pop culture references before you drop them. You will look like less of an ass than you already do. Just saying…
Mr. Fisher’s defection also reopened one of the deepest wounds in Canadian hockey history: the day in 1988 when the Edmonton Oilers traded Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings not one month after he’d married another conspicuously blond American starlet, the actress Janet Jones.
Yes, let’s draw a parallel between Wayne Gretzky (the greatest forward ever and national icon) and the best third line center that Ottawa has ever had.
And in one final gratuitous blow to the Canadian psyche, the residents of Nashville didn’t exactly greet Mr. Fisher with a ticker-tape parade. A headline on a local newspaper’s web site said: “Predators acquire Carrie Underwood’s husband.”
Yes, what an unwarranted blow to our fragile hockey-centric psyches. It’s a personal affront to our sense of self-worth that casual sports fans in Nashville might not know who Mike Fisher is… WHY DON’T YOU KNOW WHO MIKE FISHER IS?!?
“Ottawa is really just a big town, it’s hardly a city,” says Liam Maguire, the owner of a local sports bar. “A lot of people are taking this personally.”
19 words without Maguire mentioning the name Paul Henderson. Maybe this Fisher trade is a bigger deal than I thought?
As soon as the trade was announced, Mr. Fisher tired to mitigate the damage. He bought a full-page ad in last Sunday’s Ottawa Citizen thanking his teammates and calling Ottawa a “tremendous city” with “some of the greatest hockey fans.” In an interview, Mr. Fisher says he plans to sell his house in Ottawa, but will keep operating his Ontario hockey school. “Mike did not want to leave Ottawa,” says Todd Reynolds, one of Mr. Fisher’s agents. “He wanted to stay. But he also realizes that these decisions have to be made by teams, and if he had to go somewhere, Nashville was his first choice.”
Mitigate the damage? But Fisher didn’t approach the organization about being moved… The funny thing about this is, Cacciola doesn’t know the definition of the word mitigate. But I wouldn’t expect Cacciola to know that, because he doesn’t work for a reputable paper. Right? Oh, no he writes for the Wall Street Journal.
For some fans, the apology wasn’t enough. One day after the news broke, one Ottawa station declared it was imposing a ban on Ms. Underwood’s music while rival station CIHT-FM, better known as Hot 89.9, asked listeners to send in their Mike Fisher jerseys. “We plan to ship them off to Africa,” says Jeff Mauler, the station’s morning host.
Hot 89.9’s “Jerseys for Smiles” campaign comes as Mike Fisher jerseys have been marked 60% off at some local sports apparel stores. It was created out of goodwill, not spite. Oh well, minor details.
This week, the Senators pulled down a banner of Mr. Fisher’s face from the side of the arena. “My mom is shattered,” says Rick Currie, a television writer and comedian from Ottawa. “She loved him.”
For the record, Rick Currie’s mom has watched Ghost 1,493,299 times since the passing of Patrick Swayze.
The trade to Nashville does make good business sense for a team that needs to rebuild. The Senators were able to dump an aging (and expensive) center for a first-round draft pick this year and a conditional pick.
If it sounds like a cold-blooded hockey decision…
A hockey theft of this magnitude isn’t likely to happen again anytime soon. Saskatchewan native Jarret Stoll has been romantically linked to actress Katie Cassidy from “Melrose Place,” but he already plays in Los Angeles for the Kings.
But if Cassidy ever makes the jump from Melrose Place to CSI: NY, watch out!
In the meantime, Senators fans are settling in and slowly making peace with Mr. Fisher’s abandonment. “Something had to happen to shake up the team,” says Jason Laurans, the 43-year-old owner of a local comedy club. “I think we all sort of knew Fisher would be the first one to go. He was already talking about wanting to have babies with Carrie Underwood, you know?”
This is the best bit of writing in Cacciola’s article — The male demographic making peace with Fisher’s absence because he wants to have babies with Carrie Underwood. It’s okay Mike… we get it.