I finished it! Finally!
(from google images)
I just closed The Final Call: Hockey Stories from a Legend in Stripes by Kerry Fraser just minutes ago and I feel so accomplished. My brain is still teeming with a surplus of names and teams and dates, but I’m glad I read it. I think I could probably answer a few more hockey trivia questions than before. Just a few.
My critiques of early posts still hold. The timeline jumps all over the place and that’s annoying. So many names dropped that it was like the first time I read Lord of the Rings and thought Sauron and Saruman were the same character until the end of The Fellowship of the Ring. Some anecdotes seem pointless, but perhaps there is no point to a book full of history and experience. I don’t read nonfiction as much, so my understanding of them is weaker than my knowledge of fiction and story.
But on to the good stuff. Fraser has several chapters in the end, each alloted to a team: Rangers, Bruins (including the 2010 Winter Classic), Canadiens, Flames, Leafs, Blues, Oilers, Canucks, and more. Great names that I’ve briefly heard in my two years of being a fan that I now know more about. Fraser has great respect for the players and the game, although there is a total quiet dig against Bettman, which made me like Fraser all the more. Fraser is also Catholic and sometimes his prose seems like sermonizing, which might bug some readers, but I truly think the man was very grateful for his career and experiences and that was brought out with his faith.
The last chapter is about the Flyers. It’s not titled that, but that’s the team focus. Like I said in my first coverage of the book, Fraser’s last game was the 82nd game of 2010 for the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers. The shootout that led the Flyers into the playoffs and all the way to the Finals. Just thinking about that game still gives me chills. Fraser talks about some of his time at the Spectrum, being a little wary of Bobby Clarke and getting two herniated disks from a hit by LeClair. But it ends with that awesome game, detailing it from a point of view that we as fans will never get to see. Representatives from both teams congratulated Fraser after the game, which speaks a lot of the character of the Rangers. Fraser mentions that Laviolette also hugged him. I don’t even know Fraser and I was feeling a little teary about all the goodbyes.
It’s a good read. I wouldn’t try to read it in one or two sittings. There’s a lot of information to digest, but what you learn and take from the book is pretty impressive. Thirty years of refereeing experience from a true lover of the game: Kerry Fraser.
The Final Call: Hockey Stories from a Legend in Stripes by Kerry Fraser ***1/2 (out of five stars)
Pick it up and give it a read. Reading anything about Gretzky off the ice is worth it.