NHL News – August 6, 2009

Offside Thursday — Leafs villain takes heat 16 years later


‘Balsillie’s bid will emerge the winner’
Offside Thursday — Leafs villain takes heat 16 years later


Referee Kerry Fraser admits to human error regarding a blown call on Wayne Gretzky — a missed penalty that, 16 years later, still rankles some Maple Leafs fans.

But, evidently, Doug Gilmour shares the blame for Gretzky not getting a five-minute major for high-sticking the Leafs star.

“Any official absolutely has nightmares when they have an effect on the game — and a negative effect,” Fraser said yesterday on Leafs Lunch on AM640, reflecting on the incident in Game 6 of the 1993 conference final between Toronto and the Los Angeles Kings.

“When it crosses over into what occurred that night, the human error, the element that we miss … I think about it often.”

Gretzky drew blood when he clipped Gilmour on the chin, but Fraser had an obstructed view and the linesmen missed it as well.

Fraser said he asked Gilmour for his side of the story, and the Leaf said he was hit on the follow-through of Gretzky’s shot.

Replays showed otherwise. The Kings centre should have been penalized for a high stick.

Gretzky went on to score the winning goal when he should have been serving a major, and the Kings wrapped up the series in Game 7.

Fraser faced the wrath of a handful of callers with long memories — one suffered from sleepless nights, and an e-mailer said it was “the game that broke my heart.” But the referee handled them with aplomb.

While agreeing with one gent that he blew the call, Fraser said: “I hope you got it all out — you should not carry this anger and resentment.”

After 16 years, yeah, time to give it a rest.




With the new title of president added to his portfolio, Canucks general manager Mike Gillis says he’s closer to locking up his franchise player to a multi-year contract.

Gillis spoke to Vancouver’s Team 1040 radio station about his new role after Chris Zimmerman resigned from the position and revealed that the Canucks are close to an extension agreement with Roberto Luongo – an deal that that should be completed by training camp.

“I think philosophically we’re very close and I think to get top players signed it usually does take a longer period of time,” Gillis told the station on Tuesday. “We’ve had a lot of stuff happen in the meantime. We were moving really well and then we had the draft and free-agency and some other distractions occurred. But we feel really confident that we’re all on the same page and it’s only a matter of everyone getting focussed on the final part of it to get it done. We intend to (get it done before the season). We hope to. I know Laurence (Gilman) has had some discussions with Roberto’s agent as early as yesterday. We’re getting there and we’re confident that we’ll get something done.”

Luongo, 30 is entering the final year of a four-year, $27 million contract. He is coming off a 2008-09 campaign where he posted a 33-13-7 record with nine shutouts and a 2.34 goals-against average.


‘Balsillie’s bid will emerge the winner’


Jim Balsillie is alive and well in his rampant quest to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes.

Sort of.

As usual, almost everything to do with the bankrupt Coyotes, the story that won’t go away, is about as clear as mud. But at least Balsillie is still in the game with his attempt to purchase the National Hockey League franchise for $214.5 million, which would include moving the team to Hamilton.

Yesterday, in a stunning determination, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Redfield T. Baum, who has deftly avoided any kind of controversy in this case, ordered that Balsillie’s offer for the Coyotes be considered when the club is put up for auction on Sept. 10.

That becomes particularly interesting considering the NHL itself voted unanimously just last week to turn down Balsillie as an NHL owner.

When asked last night what would happen should Balsillie be granted the franchise by the court on Sept. 10 after the NHL has already vetoed him as an owner, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Sun Media: “I don’t anticipate that happening.”

The truth is, the NHL didn’t anticipate Balsillie getting this far, or for that matter, the dealings on the Coyotes getting this messy.

In fact, the NHL may find itself in a less than enviable position no matter what occurs in the auction next month. The NHL’s preferred bid for the Coyotes is the one headed by Chicago sportsman Jerry Reinsdorf who is heading up a group, although we are told none of his own money is involved with the bid, which would see the team remain in Phoenix.

The Reinsdorf offer, like Balsillie’s offer, like a still unofficial third offer from the Ice Edge Holdings group, is conditional.