When the Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway later this week, they'll do so without the League's longest-serving referee, Kerry Fraser (and his hair). While twenty of Fraser's 33 full-time NHL referee colleagues made the cut, Kerry (who officiated only four games in the 2006 Playoffs) did not. In essence, Kerry Fraser is the Montreal Canadiens of NHL referees -- tons of playoff games through the years, a small handful of games last year, none this year.
The decision not to send Fraser to the postseason is an interesting one, given that he was far and away the most popular choice in a recent (December, 2005) player poll as the League's most consistent referee. Of course, that might mean that the players see Fraser as consistently awful, but the fact of the matter is that it's inconsistency in officiating more than poor interpretation of the rules that infuriate coaches and players.
Devils center Scott Gomez said of Fraser, "He's consistent. And he's got the respect from players and knows how to give it back."
Simon Gagne of the Flyers noted that "Kerry does a great job every time we have him here. What I like about him, I can go talk to him if I need answers to some questions."
But the comments of an anonymous Maple Leafs player may best sum up why Fraser missed the playoffs: "He's consistent all right. He hoses us all the time."