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Monday, 14 November 2011

TBC: The Final Call

Teebz's Book Club makes a big return this week as I have a ton of books to review this week. Today, HBIC and TBC is proud to bring you a review of a book being released tomorrow that I think will be a best-seller. Teebz's Book Club is proud to present The Final Call, written by Kerry Fraser and published by Fenn/McClelland & Stewart. Kerry Fraser worked the most games in NHL history as an official, and the stories and information presented in this highly-entertaining book is the culmination of over thirty years of service as an NHL official. Mr. Fraser looks back at the good times, the bad times, some of the funny moments, and some very interesting moments from his career in The Final Call, and it was truly an entertaining read. If you're looking for a Christmas gift for your hockey fan this season, put The Final Call on your shopping list!

I got to meet Kerry Fraser in September, and the man behind the writing is as fantastic as his book is. Mr. Fraser worked in 2165 NHL games over 33 years in the NHL. He has long been known as on of the best officials to ever call games at the NHL level, and his signature coif has been his most recognizable feature for the vast majority of his career. Kerry Fraser continues to be a valuable source of information for hockey fans as a blogger on TSN.ca's C'Mon Ref! blog. Mr. Fraser lives in New Jersey with his wife, Kathy, and loves spending time with his children and grandchildren.

I want to make one thing clear about this publication: The Final Call is excellent! Mr. Fraser's look back on his career as he brushed with greatness both on the ice and behind the bench is the stuff that hockey fans crave for water cooler chatter. However, Mr. Fraser also shows that he's not all business as he speaks volumes about his family and his religion, and his open and honest look at his life in hockey presents Mr. Fraser in a brand-new light.

Mr. Fraser's storied career in the NHL started in Denver in a game between the Minnesota North Stars and the Colorado Rockies. The Sarnia-born referee ended his career 33 years later in Philadelphia in a game between the New York Rangers and the hometown Flyers. Along the way, Kerry Fraser got to meet and interact with stars such as Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Brett Hull, and Steve Yzerman, but also rubbed elbows with some of the toughest men to lace up their skates in Chris Nilan, Tiger Williams, Matthew Barnaby, and Jim McKenzie. There are also many stories of great coaches such as Jacques Demers, Scotty Bowman, and Al Arbour, and many stories of great officials such as Ray Scapinello, John McCauley, and Leon Stickle.

There are some fascinating stories about NHL business as well. Mr. Fraser explains his side of the story in the famous non-call on Wayne Gretzky when he high-sticked Doug Gilmour in 1993. He talks candidly about the Ron Hoggarth-Jim Schoenfeld "Have another doughnut" episode in the playoffs, and what happened after that famous outburst. He talks about how the abuse of an official rule was changed because of the abuse that Andy Van Hellemond, among others, took at the hands of players. Information like this can only come from a man on the inside, and Mr. Fraser's insight is fantastic.

While Mr. Fraser's work on the ice earned him much respect as an official, Mr. Fraser held the blue-collar guys that worked their tails off to a high esteem as well. Mr. Fraser writes,

"I'd love to work a game between a whole team of Sutters (six brothers who played over 5,000 games in the NHL and collectively won six Stanley Cups) against the Hunter boys (three brothers who accumulated four Stanley Cups). These guys would do anything to win and even fought each other when playing on opposing teams. I'd declare the last man standing the winner. I absolutely love those guys - each and every one of them.
The Final Call really is one of the best hockey books I have had the pleasure of reading this year, and the 300-page autobiographical look at Mr. Fraser's career is phenomenal. The added chapter speaks of Mr. Fraser's insistence for the NHL to reconsider its stance on checks to the head, and I fully agree with his opinion on the matter. Honestly, this book will captivate all hockey fans with its frank and honest look at a vast number of situations that Mr. Fraser was involved in over his career.

While there are some instances of PG-rated language that you should be aware of, the usage is appropriate due to the situations that Mr. Fraser found himself in, but I'd still recommend the book to teens and older. Regardless of that warning, the stories and information presented by Mr. Fraser is absolutely incredible, The Final Call is entirely deserving of the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval! If you need a great hockey gift for your hockey fan this Christmas, pick this book up as it's worth its weight in gold!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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