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Review of "The Final Call"

While I generally review newer books, this book from 2011 is one that I had been searching for in libraries and book stores for some time and finally got a chance to check out a digital copy.  When it became available I jumped on the chance and read it in two days, something that doesn't happen often.  Here is my review of "The Final Call."


“The Final Call: Hockey Stories from a Legend in Stripes” by Kerry Fraser


5 of 5 stars (excellent)

Review: Kerry Fraser was considered by many to be one of the better NHL referees during his 30 year career in the league.  When one considers how much travel he did, how many players and coaches he encountered and all of the events he saw during that time, one must imagine that he has plenty of stories to tell.  That is evident when reading his memoir, written in 2011, soon after his retirement.

Despite the title, the book isn’t completely stories from the rink or his personal life.  There are passages that describe the training, fitness requirements and other parts of a hockey official’s life.  It was clear from this that one of the things that Kerry didn’t like about the job was writing the reports after each game, especially if it was a game in which there were many penalties or other occurrences.  This would include incidents such as verbal altercations that may not have resulted in penalties but still warranted extra attention from the league offices.

What makes the book very entertaining, though, IS the variety of stories Fraser shares.  These are mainly divided by location, with chapters covering several NHL cities.  All of the Original Six cities are covered as well as others such as Philadelphia (where Fraser officiated his last game on the last day of the regular season in 2010) and Vancouver.  Players from Gordie Howe to Wayne Gretzky to Sidney Crosby are given time in the book.  Those are the greatest names mentioned (along with Mario Lemieux) but there is plenty of material on players that aren’t as famous well.

Some fans may remember certain games in which Fraser was part of the story, most notably the famous illegal stick call in game 2 of the 1993 Stanley Cup Final between Montreal and Los Angeles.18 years after the call, he still felt he made the right call – just as any proud official would do.  These stories about his officiating, as well as stories about outings and work with fellow officials are just as good as those about the players and coaches.

What really stood out in this book for me, however, is how gracious he was in paying tribute to everyone who made his career memorable.  Of course, like any good family man, there is plenty of praise for his wife Kathy and their children.  Hockey fans of any age will enjoy reading this memoir of a Hall of Fame referee.


Link: The Final Call: Hockey Stories from a Legend in Stripes: Fraser, Kerry: 9781551683539: Books






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