Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski | January 4, 2022

At age 24 and in his sixth season, the Arizona Coyotes’ Christian Fischer understands 18-year-old rookies’ insecurities.

He has two words of advice for them: calm down.

“I remember coming up here from Tucson, I couldn’t be more scared for practice or to miss a puck,” he says. “That’s human nature. Once that process goes away and you start playing hockey, you calm down.

“It might be a different arena or players, but it’s the same game they were playing yesterday in Tucson or juniors six months ago. I think the guys listen to my advice.”

Fischer’s off-ice, nice-guy demeanor extends to his “family,” which includes the Accardos of Gilbert. Leighton Accardo, 9, died November 24, 2020, during an 18-month battle with stage-four cancer. 

He supports Skatin’ for Leighton, an all-day festival on Sunday, January 30, at Phoenix Raceway that celebrates her life.

The community can roller skate, run or walk the racetrack and enjoy music, food and drinks in the infield from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Coyotes hope to raise $149,000 (Leighton’s hockey number was 49) to benefit the Leighton Accardo Memorial Fund that financially supports youth female hockey players.

“We’ve kept close with her family,” Fischer says. “Obviously, in the beginning, it was super tough. She was skating with us and all of a sudden … It was a tough time for her family.

“That’s a big part of our team and our culture as an organization. We’re privileged to be in the position to have a big voice and a big say. The very least we can do is help a family like that. Guys still wear No. 49 bracelets. She has a spot in just about everyone’s heart.”

On November 16, 2019, Leighton signed a one-day honorary contract with the Coyotes for the annual Hockey Fights Cancer game and took the ceremonial opening faceoff. Fischer says it was an emotional day for the team, especially him and teammate Jakob Chychrun.

“When she was skating and practicing with us, I know, for a fact, when Jakob and I were sitting on the bench, both of us were crying,” he says.

“It’s stuff you can’t really control. It’s bigger than hockey. It’s bigger than sports. It’s about being a family and being part of a community. We love that family and Leighton. She’s always going to be a part of us.”

Fischer has a soft spot for children. When the Coyotes’ public relations team asked him for his interests and passions outside of hockey, his said his priorities are underprivileged families or ill children.

“We’re in such a privileged position,” he says. “I consider myself in a very normal position. We’re their role models. If that means stopping by and saying hi to them, how can you not do that? I’d do it every week, if we were allowed to. Nobody’s focusing us to do these things. It’s what the players have a passion for.”

On a playful note, Fischer is also passionate about country music, which pairs well with Arizona’s nice weather.

“I’m always a country guy,” he says. “I always listen to that when it’s nice weather. That’s big in my car going to and from the rink. That’s the perk of living in Arizona.

“I also like outdoor stuff, which is easy to say in Arizona. I enjoy golf in the off season. When we have days off, it’s very relaxing. It’s a very fun game to play with other guys and build relationships.”

After all, golfers walk together for four hours and, Fischer says, it allows him to gauge a player’s personality.

“You can find out if someone is patient when they make a mistake,” he says. “There are ups and downs. In golf, if you mess up a ball you can see how they handle that. Do they throw their clubs and be a baby?”

Fischer recently dove into cooking. When he was 19, he admits he ordered Chipotle through DoorDash “every single meal.” Now his go-to dish is chicken, baked in the oven, with cheese.

“I go out to the grill, have a glass of wine,” he adds. “I like to make meal preps. That’s just a part of growing up. I genuinely enjoy trying new things.

“I don’t go over the top. There’s no ratatouille. I just like any type of chicken, grilled or baked in the oven. I’m a very simple guy.”

Skatin’ for Leighton

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, January 30

WHERE: Phoenix Raceway, 7602 Jimmie Johnson Drive, Avondale

COST: $20 general admission

INFO: arizonacoyotes.com/skatinforleighton

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