Here's a snippet from Kerry Fraser about Wayne Gretzky that I feel is relevant due to the fact that he clearly states he puts his whistle away even when there are legitimate calls to make simply because of the player who is fouled and his perception of them. This is what is happening to Crosby. The league has a serious problem that it accepts this kind of mentality and seriously allows the refs, not the players, to decide the outcome of many games based on their personal agendas and perceptions of players.
“The first shift, the first time he got touched, he went for a leap and was turning his head looking to see if I had my arm raised before he hit the ice. We had no diving penalty back then, so my personality, my character flaw, took over and I thought, ‘I’ll show you.’ I didn’t call anything.”
True to those thoughts, Fraser kept his whistle in his pocket when it came to infractions perpetrated on Gretzky throughout the game. Remember, this is in the era of the one referee system, when the zebras had their names on their backs just like the players, and the fans knew who they were.
“There were, I’m sure, legitimate times where I could’ve called a penalty and I went the other way. And the more that happened, the more the crowd booed and yelled at me, and the more it caused me to dig my heels in even deeper.”
Near the end of the game, the stubbornness continued between Fraser and Gretzky, leading to several colorful metaphors. Even Bobby Clarke chimed in with one of his own.
“There was one minute left in the game and the Flyers were winning by one goal. The Oilers had a phenomenal power play – ‘Gretz’ was a second-year player, and they had (Mark) Messier, Paul Coffey, Kevin Lowe, Jari Kurri, (Glenn) Anderson, you name it.
“When the Philadelphia goalie caught the puck, I blew the whistle. Gretzky was behind the goal-line in his office, nobody around him. As I blew the whistle he jumped in the air, threw his hands out forward, his feet out backward and did a belly flop on the ice, nobody around him.
“Clarke skated over to him – no teeth – and said, ‘Get up, Gretzky, you f—in’ baby!’
“I skated over to him and said, ‘Wayne, what are you doing? There was nobody within 15 feet of you.’
“He said, ‘Yeah, you wouldn’t have called it anyway. You haven’t called a f—in’ thing all night!’
“I said, ‘You’re right. I’m going to start right now. You’ve got two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“He said, ‘Thanks, it’s about effing time you called something!’ And he stormed off the ice.”
Years later, Fraser and Gretzky can laugh about their confrontation, now that they’re both retired from the game.
“Wayne and I have even talked about this. He wrote the foreword to my book (The Final Call: Hockey Stories from a Legend in Stripes). One of the things he said is that, ‘Referees have a tough job, and there were times when I didn’t agree with Kerry. He wasn’t always right, but I know I wasn’t either.’”
The moral of the story? The referee is always right, even when he’s wrong.