Sean Leahy

Former ref Kerry Fraser blasts NHL on head shot policy, consistency

Sean Leahy
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As his 30-year NHL refereeing career ended last April, Kerry Fraser left the game being known for three things: The 1828 regular season and 261 playoff games he worked from 1980-2010; his uncalled high-stick on Wayne Gretzky during the 1993 Western Conference Final (ok, mostly just in Toronto); and of course, the beautiful flowing mane that was eventually covered up in 2006.

While promoting his book, "Final Call", which is out this month, Fraser sounded off on the NHL's new headshot regulations. In an interview with French site CKAC Sports, Fraser called for on the league to make any headshot punishable (via Google translate):

"The day after every game where a blow will have been brought to a head, everyone has an opinion on the decision of the referee. Was this a punishment, would he have been expelled, was it a legal move? Everyone has an opinion.

"Why keep that door open? If the league really wanted to eliminate this problem, it would unilaterally eliminate any blow to the hea,d being more firm and constant. "

Fraser continued by bringing up what the two offenses are that, in his eyes, should have gone punished last season (again, Google Translate):

"Last year we saw Marian Hossa(notes) [of the Chicago Blackhawks] and Alex Ovechkin(notes) [of the Washington Capitals] get preferential treatment when they, too, applied beatings sneaky.

"Ovechkin, a player already reprimanded more than once, gets preferential treatment because of his star status. When I saw the blow delivered by Hossa ( to Dan Hamhuis(notes)) on television, I thought it made no sense. For me it was a game and expulsion of at least five games suspension, but Hossa has not been suspended. How is it that Matt Cooke(notes) has received no [punishment] for his hit on Marc Savard(notes) and the next player [was given] five games? Cooke could have easily hit the body, but he chose to hit him in the head. This is not to understand anything. There is no consistency. The system simply does not. "

Of course, star treatment is something we see in every sport, but typically on penalty or foul calls. But Fraser brings up the point that's been hammered home time and time again: the lack of consistency in the supplementary discipline process. There's been no rhyme or reason for why Player X gets two games and Player Y gets off scot free for a similar incident. Sometimes there's an explanation of why the decision was made, other times there's not.

It'll be interesting to see how the new head shot policy works with regard to supplementary discipline beginning this season. It was the topic at last March's GM meetings and as soon as the first incident occurs, all eyes will be on Colin Campbell to see how he responds, as well as throughout the season as the consistency of punishment is once again tracked.

You have to wonder if Fraser opened his month and expressed these feelings while the NHL was signing his paychecks. A guy with Fraser's tenure in the league should be able to have somewhat of an influence, but it appears if he did reach out, his concerns fell on deaf ears.

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