Fraser changes stripes with turn as author
Ref legend packs 30 years of experience into new book
|Fraser in his final game.|
After patrolling the ice in more than 2,000 NHL contests, Fraser has shared his best stories in his new book The Final Call: Hockey Stories from a Legend in Stripes.
“It’s a behind-the-scenes, insider look,” Fraser said Wednesday before the Devils hosted Calgary. “It takes them to the ice, behind the glass with great stories. It’s funny, it’s human. There’s a lot of emotion in it.”
Fraser's final regular-season game was last year's shootout finale between the Rangers and Flyers. His 288-pager features something for everyone, especially Devils fans.
“The Jersey chapter is about the team moving from Colorado and me seeing them from the very beginning, not very good, becoming very good through drafting of players,” Fraser explained.
Fraser worked the 1988 regular-season finale at Chicago, when John MacLean’s overtime goal put the Devils into the playoffs for the first time. That sparked a run to the conference final against the Bruins.
“It’s a rough game and [Jim] Schoenfeld really turns them loose,” Fraser said, recalling Game 2. “Two fights were going at one time. Moe Lemay had run into Sean Burke in the crease, so the cavalry came. Over on the one side, Perry Anderson was about to fight with Willi Plett, so one linesman is between them.
“[Linesman] Gerard Gauthier is between Lemay and John MacLean who came to him because he ran into Burke. So I came in just at the end because I didn’t want them to fight. Just as I came in, MacLean unloads a left, got me right between the eyes. Staggered me. I grab on to Lemay and I was ticked. He didn’t knock me down. So I said where MacLean was a prolific scorer – he had great hands – fortunately he wasn’t very tough because I took his best shot.”
Fraser also witnessed the devastating power of Scott Stevens’ hit on Eric Lindros in Game 7 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals.
“I can see it now,” he said. “The one thing that I’ve been blessed with is great memory, but also emotional recall. I can pull back that emotion of the moment.”
But the pinnacle for many Devils fans is the 1995 Stanley Cup sweep of Detroit. As he tells in the book, Fraser felt that year's team was one of destiny.
“The Detroit [series], I knew that Detroit wasn’t ready. They were happy to get there. It takes something special to know how to win,” he said.
One thing’s certain: even the diehard fan is guaranteed to learn a thing or two.
“Beat writers that have been with teams since I came into the League have read it and they’ve said, ‘I didn’t know that. I didn’t know that. I should have known that happened,” Fraser said.