Mike Fisher could've come back, returning to play an 18th season in the NHL as captain of a Predators team that will be a Stanley Cup favorite this season.
Even at 37 years of age, Fisher is still a productive center and an unquestioned leader revered by everyone around the league.
That's why his decision to retire Thursday and walk away from the only job he's known in his adult life may be surprising to some. But to those who know Fisher this was always a possibility.
Fisher has always been driven by three things; his faith, family and hockey, in that order. As much as hockey has been his life, serving God and being a loving husband and father are way more important to him.
On the ice, Fisher is still a force. He scored 18 goals and chipped in 24 assists last season, and had four assists in six games of the Stanley Cup Final against the Penguins.
But it was something Fisher told me before game one of the Stanley Cup Final that stuck with me as he made his decision this summer.
When I asked him what winning a Cup would mean at this stage of his career, Fisher replied, "It would be great to win, but winning the Cup is not why I play. I play because I feel like I have this gift and I want to use it to the best of my ability."
So I believe Fisher when he says that knowing the Predators were (and are) so close to winning that elusive Cup made the hardest decision of his life even harder, but also know he didn't need to win one to validate himself as either a player or a man.
He retires as perhaps the most recognizable face in Predators' franchise history. He scored 109 goals for the team since being acquired ahead of the trade deadline in the 2010-11 season, and has been a part of every playoff series win in team history. It was truly a love affair between Preds' fans and their captain.
But I also believe Fisher will miss the quiet moments away from the spotlight with teammates and coaches more than the limelight of the sport itself. And I know he will cherish being there for more of wife Carrie Underwood's career and for young son Isaiah's childhood.
This wasn't a decision he had to make, because the Predators would have loved to welcome him back this season. But for Fisher this was time to begin the next chapter.
He leaves the game on his terms, a productive center that played his final game on the sport's biggest stage, beloved by fans. And now he will be able to fully immerse himself into his two greatest passions, his faith and his family.
Yes, the Predators went down in six games in the Stanley Cup Final in June. But Fisher is going out on top.
We should all be so fortunate.