Take a deep breath Calgary, let all that negative energy flow away. Kerry Fraser won’t be in the building on Saturday night. The controversial referee of game number 4 at the Saddledome, will not be making a return engagement in game six at Calgary.
The NHL announced Friday, that Fraser would not be among the crew for what may be the final game of the season, when Calgary attempts to put away the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Fraser bore the brunt of the Calgary animosity when in the first period he had two Flames sitting in the box in the first two minutes of play. The double penalties resulted in Tampa scoring the only goal of the game, going on to win game four. His reception only got worse as he missed a number of possible penalties committed by the Lightning which went unpunished.
Bill McCreary and Steven Walkom are the likely zebras for game six; Fraser would get the call for game seven in Tampa if it’s necessary, far away from the hostile stares and jeers of the Calgary faithful.
Fraser has been involved in many controversial games involving the Flames in the past, part of which may explain Calgary coach Darryl Sutter’s outburst after game four. At the time a visibly angry Sutter expressed thoughts about conspiracies to keep the Flames off the championship rolls. Sutter used the controversy to regroup his squad to focus on the job at hand. With a win in game five perhaps Sutter should send Kerry a box of Cubans and a case of beer in thanks.
Fraser can trace back the Calgary hatred all the way to 1989 when he called a rare penalty in double overtime which resulted in the Flames losing a game three match to Montreal. Calgary fans may have tempered their dislike for Fraser at that time with a Stanley Cup parade; no doubt they are hoping that history repeats itself again.