Originally written October 25, 2011 on Fox Sports Tennessee:
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. Along Broadway, Fifth and Sixth Avenues South and Demonbreun the streets that surround Bridgestone Arena banners hang from lampposts bearing a photo of country music stars Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley to bill the CMA Awards, which take place on Nov. 9 inside the building. Weeks in advance, preparations already are being made. Inside the Nashville Predators' locker room in the arena Tuesday, Mike Fisher is making different kinds of preparations. The night will bring his first game of the season against the San Jose Sharks. The veteran center has missed the first seven games because of offseason shoulder surgery. The Predators acquired Fisher in February from the Ottawa Senators, as the deal made sense on numerous levels. The Senators were rebuilding and got some high-round draft picks for the then-30-year-old and dumped his 4 million salary while Nashville, amid a spate of injuries, acquired a two-way player who fit seamlessly into their style of play. Come playoff time, both coach Barry Trotz and general manager David Poile made the statement that without the trade, Nashville would not have qualified for the postseason. Oh, and there's that little part about Fisher being married to Underwood, who makes her residence in the Music City. No longer would the couple have to spend as much time apart. Ostensibly, Fisher would be able to attend big events his wife would be involved in, such as when she hosts the CMAs in a little more than two weeks. Alas, life is not always so simple. Because of the time required for the arena to be set up for the event, the Predators have to go out of town. So while Carrie is performing in the building where Mike plays his home games, he will be displaced, indirectly by her, and in Anaheim, performing for the Predators that night against the Ducks. Ironic, isn't it? The day of the CMAs represents the last day of a Preds' five-game road trip, which starts at Chicago on Oct. 31 and ends ten days later in California. "I'll have to stick to the TV," Fisher said of watching the CMAs following the Predators' morning skate on Tuesday morning. Fisher spent most of his time talking with media members about how his shoulder feels better, how he has been skating since August, but was not cleared to play until Monday. His team needs him. Nashville has contended for the playoffs on somewhat of a perennial basis over the last seven seasons, but after the Predators won their first two games of the season, they won just once in their next five. On a recent three-game road trip, the Predators scored just four goals. Fisher is a four-time 20-goal scorer and on the NHL's youngest team, coach Barry Trotz is hoping his presence will bring a "comfort feeling" to the team's locker room. Fisher said he is hoping to bring some speed and energy to create some scoring chances and to help to win puck battles all over the ice, especially in his team's defensive zone. "Obviously, we're not off to the start we want, but there's lots of things we can work on," Fisher said. "And that being said, we're .500, came off a tough road trip and we'll be getting some other guys back (defenseman Francis Bouillon) and I think that will hopefully really glue us together, but offensively we've got to be a lot better in our zone, where we really haven't been great. We've really got to focus on that area." When most of the media finished with Fisher, he was asked what it is like to live in a city where the image of his multi-platinum-selling recording artist wife seems to be ubiquitous on billboards, banners and such. "Oh, it's been not real different," he said. "I'm kind of used to that everywhere. Obviously, people here are great and I've enjoyed being part of this community for this short time. They've really, obviously, embraced her and been great to me. Couldn't ask for anything more." Except, maybe, to be in the building when his wife performs in his new hometown.
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