Predators captain Mike Fisher announces retirement

Nashville Predators captain Mike Fisher has announced his retirement after 17 NHL seasons.

Fisher, 37, told The Tennessean on Thursday that he was hanging up his skates after tallying 276 goals and 309 assists in 1,088 career NHL games with the Predators and Ottawa Senators.

"This is the hardest decision I've ever had to make, but I know I've made the right one," Fisher wrote in a letter for Thursday's edition. "I've decided to retire from the NHL."

Fisher had 18 goals and 24 assists last season as he helped lead the Predators to the Western Conference title and the Stanley Cup Final, where they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.

"The way the city was behind us was unbelievable, and that's what makes the memory such a high -- but also bittersweet," wrote Fisher, who is married to country music star Carrie Underwood. "Can you imagine if we had a parade down Broadway?

"It's moments like that which I know I'll miss. This job I've been able to have for a majority of my life is so much fun. To help create that entertainment and to see the joy we can bring to people is such a unique and exciting opportunity. I'll miss my teammates, my coaches and the game itself."

Fisher played seven seasons with the Predators, scoring 237 points on 109 goals and 128 assists. In 11 seasons with the Senators, who selected Fisher with the 44th pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, Fisher tallied 167 goals and 181 assists.

Fisher, who was named the Predators' captain prior to last season, had 23 goals and 28 assists in 13 career playoff games.

"Knowing we were so close to winning it all in June only makes it more difficult to leave it behind, but I do so with hope," Fisher wrote. "Endings are always tough, but I believe when something ends, there are new beginnings, new opportunities and new things to be excited for, too.

"I believe that this team, that this city, is going to win a championship, and I'm going to be the biggest fan. No one will be happier than I will be to see it happen, because, these fans, they deserve it."

Forward James Neal, acquired from Nashville by Las Vegas in the June expansion draft, thanked Fisher on Instagram for all he taught him on and off the ice.

"Your leadership and friendship allowed our team to bring an entire city together in our quest for the Stanley Cup ... and that will always be one of the greatest memories of my life," Neal said. "Congratulations on an incredible career, but the greatest mark on your résumé is the Man you are one of the best examples of hard work, integrity, humility and class. We'll all miss you!!!"

The Predators had wanted Fisher back. While waiting for the captain's decision, general manager David Poile made sure to protect the roster by signing center Nick Bonino away from the Penguins . Poile also signed forward Scott Hartnell for veteran leadership.

Now Nashville will have to pick a new captain for a second straight year. Fisher was named the seventh captain in team history last year after the Predators traded defenseman Shea Weber to Montreal for defenseman P.K. Subban .

Defenseman Roman Josi, who will be going into his seventh season with the franchise, is a top candidate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.