We as a society are always in search of that feel good sports story. You know that one: when you finish reading, it almost makes you shed a tear or two because, against the odds, they persevered and became something so great. Well, maybe the shedding tears part is just me, but we all look forward to stories like that.
That’s exactly what you get when you look at Vernon Fiddler’s career: from going undrafted to playing 14 seasons in the NHL, scoring 104 goals and 157 assists in 877 games; he made the impossible possible throughout his career.
Vernon Fiddler had a rough start to his career - he got a tryout to play for the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL in ‘97 after not being drafted in juniors, and wasn’t selected in the ‘98 NHL draft. “My dream seemed pretty much dead after that” Fiddler stated. He was traded to Medicine Hat of the WHL a couple years later, and a year later found himself playing in the ECHL. He continued his slow climb up the ranks by advancing to the AHL after another couple of years.
He made his NHL debut with Nashville in November of 2002. “I was up and down between the AHL and Nashville like a yo-yo that year” Fiddler stated in his retirement announcement. He went on to play six seasons with the Predators racking up 45 goals and 48 assists before heading to Phoenix in 2009 as a free agent. “I suddenly realized that I had spent the previous eight years playing hockey in Virginia, Wisconsin and Tennessee - so why not Arizona and Texas next” he opined. In his two year stint with the Coyotes, Fiddler recorded the first and only hat trick of his career in 2010.
Signing with Dallas as a free agent in 2011, he played 5 years in Big D. In his retirement announcement he praises not only the Dallas Stars organization from top to bottom but also the state of Texas.
“As a player in Dallas, you're not getting noticed there every night when you're out for dinner, but when you do run into stars fans they're always polite and supportive, and you can tell they want to know more about you. That attitude made it a great place to raise my kids” he goes on to say that “my kids have absorbed the southern way of living”.
Vernon Fiddler showed nothing but class and respect to Dallas in his retirement speech...much like the respect the city first showed him. Even after playing with the New Jersey Devils in 2016-17 and coming full circle by being traded back to his first team in Nashville and making a Cup run with them, Dallas became home to him and his family and they will continue to reside in the city after retirement.
Fiddler says that “The relationship I have with the team and city is why Dallas will continue to be our home. I’m excited to get to know the area even more. And more important, I’m going to continue to work here with my foundation Fidds Kids”.
Fidds Kids is an organization that he started while he played in Dallas to help kids who were battling cancer and get them tickets to Stars games. “I've met a lot of great children throughout our time there and was honored to be in a position to brighten their days.”
Nothing but class from the NHL veteran and for that and all the years spent not only in the Big D, but in Nashville and Phoenix, we all say thank you and tip our hats to Vernon Fiddler as he enters the next stage of his life.