Kerry Fraser Recalls An “Off” Day and Al Arbour

It was 1983, the Islanders were on their way to their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup and the then young official Kerry Fraser called what he even admits was a bad game. He recalls the feeling like a young school boy being scolded by Arbour, and gives a fantastic insiders look into what goes on within the officiating community – especially during Playoff time. Fraser’s remarks came from a TSN column on make up calls.

Here are a few tidbits:

In 1983, I worked a game in Chicago Stadium between the New York Islanders dynasty team coached by the legendary, Al Arbour. Discipline was the trademark of those Arbour-coached teams. Al seldom raised his voice. When he did, I knew I screwed up. Ten minutes into this game, I had given the normally disciplined Islanders four penalties. It wasn’t that they were playing poorly; it was just that I was that awful.

The fourth penalty put the Islanders two men short and Al stood in the open door of his players’ bench with his hand on his hips while I waited in the end zone for him to place three players on the ice. His icy glare drew a bead on me as he waived his arm at me and yelled, “Kerry, get over here!”

I had such respect for Al, I skated over upon his command and stood before him like a school kid in front of the principal. Al said, “Kerry, what the hell are you doing out here tonight?” With my eyes focused on my skates beneath me I replied, “I don’t know Al. I’m really struggling and don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

Finally, I raised my eyes to see this coaching icon scratching his head and staring back at me. He pressed his lips together and said, “Well get the hell out there and try harder.” Like a little kid that was scolded by his father I responded, “Okay, Al, I’ll do my best.”

There is certainly a lot more to read and it’s a great to see that Fraser continues to contribute to hockey even in his retirement. As much as he has taken his digs from fans with all those now famous chants, he was always one of the referees I would hope to catch a glimpse of – there was always something about the way he skated and officiated.

Then there was the fact that he was one of the last officials to forgo wearing a helmet, oh and how could I forget – the hair.

In an off season that has seen some crazy stuff during the playoffs – at least there was some talk of the Islanders, and it wasn’t even draft related!

Michael Schuerlein

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