Traverse City Record-Eagle


September 17, 2008

Fischer returns to Wings in new role

TRAVERSE CITY -- On the night of Nov. 21, 2005, Jiri Fischer played in his 305th game with the Detroit Red Wings.

It would turn out to be his last.

But the former No. 1 pick of the Red Wings is back with the team and back on the ice in his new role as director of player development, working with players not much younger than him.

"It's a lot of fun," said Fischer, who looks like he could still play. "I never realized how important it is to be around young people, to be around people who are motivated and fired up to come in and work to do their job.

"That's on a daily basis, it's not just once a week. It's all the guys that are here. They're dedicated individuals who are here to prove to everybody watching -- including themselves -- that they can move up to the pro levels."

Not too long ago, it was Fischer that was moving up the rungs. The 25th overall pick in 1998, Fischer broke in as a defenseman in the 1999-2000 season, picking up eight assists in 52 games.

Fischer, who helped the Red Wings win the Stanley Cup in 2002, had a career-high four goals among 19 points in 2004.

After the lockout, Fischer played 22 games in 2005. But during a game against the Nashville Predators, Fischer collapsed on the bench and didn't have a pulse.

He was given CPR just off the ice and needed an electric shock -- a defibrillation -- to get his heart working again.

Fischer would recover, but at the age of 25 his playing career was over.

"It was extremely hard to deal with," he said. "At the same time, I'm 28. I feel good. There's a lot of guys that retire at 35 and 40 and they can hardly move.

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