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Fraser: The anniversary of you-know-what for Leaf fans

Kerry Fraser
5/27/2011 11:39:56 AM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry Fraser wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca!

Today marks the 18th anniversary of Game 6 of the Campbell Conference Final between the Los Angeles Kings and Toronto Maple Leafs. We all know what happened in that game and not a day goes by that a member of the TSN.ca community reminds Kerry about it (some of them nice, most of them not so nice) at cmonref@tsn.ca. So on this day, Kerry responds...


Kerry,
 
Do you remember what happened 18 years ago today? Have you cleared your mind of it since or do you carry it around with you like luggage?
 
Joe, Halifax
 
-----
 
Kerry,
 
Can you go one day without someone mentioning the Gilmour-Gretzky incident to you?
 
Cory Maas, Toronto
 
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Hey Kerry,
 
What can you say to me to make me stop hating your guts after the missed high stick in 93? You cost us the Cup because everyone knows we would have whupped the Habs!
 
Andrew, Toronto
 
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Hi Kerry,
 
Did Gilmour or Gretzky ever talk to you/confront you about you know what back in 1993? Is it a taboo subject?
 
Stephen Anderson - Oakville, Ontario
 


No official wants to make or miss a call that has an impact on a game or a series.  It becomes a bitter pill to swallow. 

On the 18th anniversary of the infamous "Missed Call," for many a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, the bitterness has never subsided.  

Every year, right up to my final season as a referee in the NHL I was contacted by the media on this day and asked to rehash the play.  They always ran with it and feelings were dredged up from old wounds that have never healed; especially from those that harbour hatred towards me.  I devoted an entire chapter in my book (coming out in updated paperback and e-book versions this fall - nice plug!), "The Final Call" entitled, "The Missed Call" and put it all out there; including a sincere apology to Leafs fans everywhere for not having seen the play.

My dear wife, Kathy has always told us (our seven children and I) that feelings exist. They are real and for the person who holds onto them there is no right or wrong; just that they exist.  I have never avoided the subject when asked and today won't be any different. I will respond to your questions and accept that your feelings exist as another anniversary passes.

Yes, Joe in Halifax, I do remember those aching feelings well. The helplessness of not knowing for sure what had just occurred as Doug Gilmour dabbed blood from his chin and prevented it from staining the Fabulous Forum ice lingers in my memory.  While I don't carry it with me like "luggage," the baggage that many a Leafs fan continually pack, makes it impossible for the memory to ever go away.  After all it was only 18 short years ago!  Perhaps more time is required to close the wound?

Cory in Toronto, I live in New Jersey and nobody south of the 49th Parallel is really affected by this.  Many events have occurred for me since that night in Los Angeles, both professionally and personally.

I worked several Stanley Cup Finals; the World Cup of Hockey; the Winter Olympics in Nagano; the 2000 All Star Game in Toronto; the Winter Classic in Boston's Fenway Park to mention a few in a record setting career. 

On a personal level, I buried my father in 2001 - the same father that chased a Leafs fan from Kitchener up the street with an axe in the wee hours of the morning after the game in '93. The uninvited assailant drove away in haste after continually ramming into Dad's mini-motor home parked in the driveway of his Sarnia home. (Kitchener is close to a two-hour drive from Sarnia in Southern Ontario.)  My mother has retired the referee whistle that hung on a skate lace by her telephone at the ready to blow into the phone whenever terribly obscene phone calls were received at their home.

We have witnessed our children's graduation from high school and university.  Kathy and I shared in the joy at weddings for three of our children to this point, along with the current engagement of two others. We have been blessed with five beautiful grandchildren years after the missed call. Life is not static unless we chose it to be and mine has continually moved forward.

That being said, when I was in Toronto at the TSN studios for the first month of the Stanley Cup Playoffs every day someone would recognize me and ask me about '93. The supervising producer who coordinates the website at TSN sifts through all your questions and provides me with the ones I answer in this column. He tells me there is at least one a day on the Gretzky-Gilmour subject. In some camps the very mention of my name causes vitriol unlike no other.

Stephen Anderson in Oakville, I did speak to Doug Gilmour about the missed call in a telephone conversation he and I had last summer. It was most cordial, even friendly as we shared stories and different perspectives from our long careers.  Doug Gilmour is a class act beyond being the tremendous player, captain and leader that he was throughout his career.  Doug understands that plays are missed and mistakes are made by officials and players alike.  In that conversation, 'Killer' shared something I have seen him state publicly in the past. Doug said, "Give me Game 7 back in my home building and I'd take it any time. We just didn't get it done." 

Doug Gilmour retired as a Maple Leaf in the 2002-2003 season.  During almost 10 years that we were on the ice together after May 27, 1993, I never heard Doug Gilmour reference that play with me.  At no time did I ever discuss the incident with Wayne Gretzky. Why would I?  Wayne knew what happened better than any of us.

And finally to all the "Andrews of Toronto" that need me to say something that might help make you "stop hating my guts."  I don't really think there is much more that I can say that hasn't been already said.  "I'm sorry, I missed the call, I blew it..." just don't seem to be helping you let go of it or the fact that the Leafs lost Game 7 back in Toronto. 

Instead, please allow me to share with you a quote that Doug Gilmour gave to Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun on the occasion of my last game worked in the Air Canada Centre on March 27, 2010. Your captain said, "Please let it go.  It's over.  The man's retiring. For the sake of his sanity, let it go."

If that fails Andrew, I would like to offer the wisdom of Alexander Pope (even though he didn't play for the Toronto Maple Leafs) who said, "To err is human; to forgive, divine."

Peace be with you...

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser


Kerry Fraser is an analyst for the NHL on TSN and That's Hockey 2Nite on TSN2. As one of the league's most recognizable senior referees, he's worked 1,904 NHL regular season games and 261 playoff games during his 37-year career.


Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca!


You can also follow Kerry Fraser on Twitter at @kfraserthecall!

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