DETROIT, MI -- Jiri Fischer scored his final NHL goal on Oct. 17, 2005 against the San Jose Sharks. On Tuesday, he got one more chance to celebrate as a member of the Detroit Red Wings.
During the first of two Winter Classic alumni games at Comerica Park on Tuesday, Fischer and his Red Wings teammates beat the Toronto Maple Leafs old-timers 5-4.
The former Red Wings defenseman, who tallied 11 goals in 305 NHL games, opened the scoring, but was unsure of what to do next.
“I didn’t know what to think," said Fischer. "The puck went in. I didn’t know do I celebrate, do I not? Is it going to be embarrassing? Is it not? It certainly felt great. As the game evolved that was maybe the last goal in a Red Wings uniform for most of us to score.”
Fischer was forced to retire almost two months after his final NHL goal. While sitting on the bench during a game against the Nashville Predators on Dec. 12, 2005, Fischer collapsed and had to be revived with a portable defibrillator and CPR by Red Wings' physician Tony Colucci. He had gone into cardiac arrest.
He was diagnosed with ventricular tachycardia, which is a rapid heartbeat and had to leave the game at just 25 years old. Fischer understood the odd site of his young self amongst the old-timers.
“I’m 33 years old. A little young for an alumni game, eight years retired," he joked.
In preparing for the alumni game, Fischer said he kidded with Colucci about whether he'd be able to participate or not. The doctor was at ice level, nervous, Fischer said, just making sure everything was OK.
Today, Fischer is the Red Wings' Director of Player Development, where he oversees Detroit's prospects around the world. It's just another example of an organization taking care of one its own.
After the game, Fischer recalled when he was 19 receiving an invite from teammate Aaron Ward to stay at his house until the rookie was able to find a play of his own. Stuff like that stays with players and makes events like alumni games even more special for the players.
It was a perfect scene both the Red Wings and Maple Leafs players with a mix of frigid temperatures and snowflakes at times. That only added to the experience.
“It was a little fairy tale,” said Fischer.
- - - - - - -