TORONTO - Carrie Underwood and her NHLer husband Mike Fisher don't see each other as much as they'd like, so she had him in mind when she scheduled her fall tour such that it would kick off right around the time Fisher was due to report for camp with the Nashville Predators.
Then, of course, the NHL lockout came along. Suddenly, Fisher was grounded in Tennessee while his 29-year-old wife played the arenas he was supposed to — including Ottawa's Scotiabank Place and Toronto's Air Canada Centre this weekend.
"I'm jealous," Underwood said with a laugh Wednesday while in Toronto, preparing for a gig in London, Ont.
"I'm like: 'Now you're home and I'm not and you're supposed to be running around — that's why I scheduled my tour for this time. But now you're home.'"
The five-time Grammy-winning country singer says Fisher can't join her on tour because he has an obligation to keep himself in shape in preparation for a potentially sudden solution to the lockout ("the places we stay, they don't always have the best fitness equipment," she explains).
And while Underwood has become pretty well-versed in the winter sport — particularly for someone who grew up in the hockey-free environs of Oklahoma — she mostly wants the NHL to return for Fisher's sake.
"I know he misses it," she said. "I will be happy when he gets back to work."
Meanwhile, Underwood has work to do herself supporting "Blown Away," the adventurous fourth album she released in May. The chart-topping disc, which has since been certified platinum in the U.S. and gold here in Canada, saw the former "American Idol" contestant taking some risks with slightly moodier material (in addition to her typically grand arena-country show-stoppers).
While she's pleased about the sales, she says she didn't need the commercial returns to validate the album.
"I felt like ('Blown Away') one way or another kind of solidified my place in country music and in music," she said.
It follows, then, that she's since felt free to branch out.
Underwood was recently cast as Maria von Trapp in an upcoming live TV broadcast version of "The Sound of Music," slated to air on NBC sometime in 2013.
Underwood, whose highest-profile acting credits previously had been small roles in the 2011 film "Soul Surfer" and the sitcom "How I Met Your Mother," says she was drawn to the audacious nature of the project, which is based on the well-liked Rodgers and Hammerstein musical.
"I love the ambitiousness that the guys putting it on had," she said. "This is really gutsy, because it's not a remake of the movie. We're doing something totally different — we're doing the musical, live on TV. Everybody's singing live. And I really respect that.
"I feel like there needs to be more live music on TV. They're bringing back hopefully a love of musicals to a whole new generation, it seems noble and it seems awesome."
That said, it's not necessarily a precursor to more acting roles for the powerhouse singer.
"I would love to do singing/acting things that go together — more stuff like this — but there's so many times where a movie is like, some aspiring singer trying to make it in the music business," she says with a laugh.
"Stuff like that has been done a lot. This just seemed like something really fresh and new and fun and challenging. I definitely intend to work very, very, very hard to do this musical justice. It deserves the utmost care and respect."
In the meantime, she'll continue touring with what she says is her longest show ever, regularly coming in around 105 minutes. She then has nearly two months off following the final date of this leg of the tour on Dec. 22 before she hits the road again.
It would seem to create an ideal break for the holidays — but Underwood sighs that any such plans are once again at the mercy of the NHL.
"I have no idea," she said of her holiday plans. "It really depends on this dang hockey schedule. All of our plans hinge on that."