August 06, 2009
May 27 is a depressing date for fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Sixteen years ago, it was the night Wayne Gretzky's high-stick on Doug Gilmour in Game 6 of the Campbell Conference final was missed by referee Kerry Fraser.
Gretzky would score the game-winner moments later, setting up a Game 7 in which "The Great One" potted a hat trick to send the Los Angeles Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The play is forever ingrained in the long history of the Maple Leafs, and remains a point of controversy.
After the game, the NHL's Director of Officiating, Bryan Lewis, explained to Ron MacLean that if the officials weren't 100 percent sure there was an infraction, don't call it. Don Cherry on the other hand didn't agree, but then again, who would have thought otherwise?
Fraser, who's retiring after the upcoming 2009-10 NHL season, joined Brian Duff during "Leafs Lunch" on Toronto's AM 640 on Wednesday, taking calls and answering emails from fans; the majority of which were quite restrained (thank you, delay button).
During the hour-long chat, Fraser answered the burning question we had all been wondering: Gel or mousse? To which he explained the secret of his vivacious mane is Paul Mitchell Freeze and Shine.
After Duff got through joking about Fraser's "national treasure" (his hair you dirty monkeys), the discussion returned to the controversial high-stick.
Conspiracy theorists, still upset fans and those willing to forgive him all voiced their opinions to Fraser, who to his credit, sounded like a man who moved past that night immediately.
Fraser did reveal that after play had stopped, he skated over to Gilmour for an explanation of what happened. Fraser said that Gilmour had told him that Gretzky followed through on his shot and clipped him in the chin, something that wouldn't have been called.
From there, Fraser then consulted with his two linesmen who couldn't agree if a call needed to be made. Fraser also defended his vantage point of the play saying, "There was an obstructed view off the faceoff. Two big players were in my line of sight."
Down Goes Brown, who hasn't forgotten about May 27, 1993 ever, didn't understand Fraser's reasoning:
Beyond that, Fraser is sticking to his claim that he didn't see the play. He repeatedly mentioned that the game looks different on the ice than it does from "up above", in an apparent attempt to explain how his version is contradicted by multiple replays.
At one point, he even told Duff that "you'll see that there was an obstructed view off the faceoff, and two big players were in my line of sight" -- a bizarre claim, considering the play didn't happen off of a faceoff. Apparently, being "on the ice" also warps space-time.
DGB points out a still shot from video of the play that looks to show Fraser had a clear line of sight of Gretzky's stick hitting Gilmour's chin.
The podcast is up on the AM 640 website and you can listen to it here.
For our readers out there who are Leafs fan: It's been 16 years. Have you moved on from the non-call or do you still harbor ill will towards Kerry Fraser?