August 20, 2015

Craig Fisher

In a span of three years Craig Fisher went from playing junior B hockey to playing in the National Hockey League.

It was all a matter of good timing for Fisher, who admitted he never really gave playing in the NHL a lot of thought.

"I kind of was a slow burner," he told Ken Reid in the book Hockey Card Stories. "I was never a big minor hockey star. My brother was a lot better than me growing up. I got drafted, third round, out of Junior B, the Metro league. So I wasn't one of those guys that really about the NHL. I just loved the game, went to college and got a chance to play."

Fisher avoided the major junior route, partly to keep his college hockey options open and partly because his brother had a bad experience in the OHL. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers 56th overall in 1988, but he was always very casual about it. He committed to playing and studying at Miami (Ohio) University.

After two seasons at college he was emerging as a top player and was convinced to leave school early and turn pro. He immediately was brought to Philadelphia and played in his first two NHL games late in the 1989-90 season.

The Flyers sent Fisher down to the AHL for more seasoning in his full rookie campaign. He lit up the AHL with 43 goals and got called up to the Flyers for two more appearances.

In the summer of 1991 he was included in a blockbuster transaction as he was traded to Edmonton Oilers with Scott Mellanby and Craig Berube for Dave Brown, Corey Foster and some super-scorer by the name of Jari Kurri.

The Oilers may have hoped that Fisher could one day fill Kurri's goal scoring void, but he never did play with the Oilers. In fact he only played in eight more NHL games - four with Winnipeg and four with Florida.

The Oilers were right, though. Fisher really could fill the net, though it was at the minor league level. Fisher's best season as a pro came with the Orlando Solar Bears in 1995-96 when he led the entire International Hockey League in goal scoring with 74 tallies in 82 games. His 130 points was second best in the league, behind only former NHL star Rob Brown.

After a short tour of Germany, Fisher's career came to an end with the Rochester Americans of the AHL. In a collision with two opponents Fisher suffered a devastating head injury. Between the opponents and the ice, Fisher suffered "four concussions in three seconds."

It took over a year for Fisher to recover from the effects of the concussion. But he did and returned to the ice, this time as a coach with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa and Junior A in Whitby.

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