A short rant here. I'll preface this with a statement, like I typically do: I think Mike Fisher is a terrific hockey player. There, I said it.
But let's make one thing clear - he isn't going to score 164 goals this season. He isn't even going to score 30 goals this season. It doesn't matter if he plays centre or plays the wing, or if he's flanked by Regin, Spezza, or Gretzky c. 1987. Mike Fisher is not a goal scorer. Sure, he has an incredible wrist shot that can pick a corner from 20 feet out and sure, he has a knack for the crease. But he doesn't have the full set of tools to use that wrist shot AND go to the crease AND have the hand-eye coordination and balance to take a pass and fire it home. At least, he doesn't have the set of tools to do that 30 times in one season.
I'm as excited as anyone that he had a pair of nice pre-season games, but let's be honest with ourselves. He scored a hat trick against the AHL Habs and he scored another goal against the ECHL Lightning. He signed a big contract not because he has 30 goals a year in him, but because he's the heart and soul, crash and bang player that we want to clone on the third and fourth line (albeit at a much cheaper cap hit). Quoting Bryan Murray, "Peter Regin has turned Mike into a scoring machine." Thanks, BM, for the segue into Regin.
I think Peter Regin is a solid hockey player, possibly even an NHL calibre player. Without question, he has earned the right to start the season in Ottawa. It doesn't take an insider to figure out that Regin has made this team since Murray himself has said this. But pardon me if I'm not ready to get a Regin jersey just yet. The dude has skated in 4 of our 5 preseason games. Let's break down that sentence - he has played in four games! Next, we've only played 5 games total! And finally, they are preseason! I would be absolutely thrilled if the kid bangs out a solid 82 games as a second line centre, or even a third line centre and continues to average 4-5 shots a game. Hell, he makes his wingers into scoring machines!
I'm not a Debbie Downer. In fact, I'm a terrible homer, overly passionate about this team and overly optimistic about our chances this season. If you've read this blog, you know that I take the aggressive projections for all of these players. But I just hope we're all keeping our feet on the ground when it comes to this new power couple of Fisher and Regin. Mike Fisher is a 45-point player that plays a two-way game and has eyes that the girls of Ottawa (and Don Cherry) adore. No more, no less. While I think Spezza should get the alternate captain, it is clear that Fisher is going to be sporting it come October 3rd and I'm fine with it. But let's not get our panties in a bundle over a pair of nice nights from him on the scoresheet. Ditto Peter Regin. The last thing we need to do is Bochenski this kid in the city and build a hype around him that will be impossible to fulfill on a nightly basis. Peter Regin should start out as a third line centre and his goals should be modest - play 70 games and get 30-35 points. If he can pull that off, I would call it our best rookie performance in years (before you google it, Foligno had 9 points in 45 games in his rookie year and we were satisfied).
One more time - I'm pumped that Regin will start the year here and I'd love to see him stay the entire season. But please understand that to expect him and Fisher to blow past modest stat projections is unfair to them and will be devastating to us as fans. At the same time, don't be shocked if Regin stumbles a bit and requires a bit more seasoning in Bingo. It isn't a knock on him. Spezza did it, too. You play with the big boys for a bit and identify your strengths and weaknesses. Then, you ride the limo 5 hours to the B-Sens where you can work on your weaknesses in a relatively consequence-free environment (sorry, Binghamton fans). Spezza did it, Foligno did it, Lee is doing it now, and Karlsson might do it. Regin is no different.
I hope I'm wrong and he and Fisher and Kovalev blow minds as a second line. Realistically, though, I see him in Binghamton in November to iron out the kinks. Second line centres don't just appear out of your recently brutal minor league program (the Murrays are improving it, but it has a few more years).
Am I wrong? Is Regin the real deal? Light it up, fans! You're on the air...