Saturday, February 26, 2011

Text - 6 Phearless Philadelphia Phillies Points

My article was published by Yahoo Sports on 2/26/11

6 Phearless Philadelphia Phillies Points

The Philadelphia Phillies are so deep, that six points seems too few to offer.

This team appears set to begin what should be the best season in franchise history, even though they have not won a game yet. They have not yet taken the divisional lead, or pulled away from a second place team. They have not caught fire during the dog days of summer, stayed healthy into September, or gone strong into October ready for a playoff push.

So far, the only thing this team has accomplished is to have rightfully set the highest expectations in the minds of the baseball world. Few teams in the major leagues have comparable talent, or potential. Let's look at six key points that dot the path to their potential destination. GPS voice command: “World Series, 2011?”

One:
For all the talk of the Phillies supposed dominance, they have actually been on a three-year slide. In 2008, they won the World Series. In 2009, they won the National League Pennant. In 2010, they won a Division Series. That would be graphed as a decline, not a dynasty. But, a new season is at-hand and trends can quickly be reversed.

Two:
The starting pitching staff features a Fab Four of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels. Then, there is that other pitcher who could easily be confused with a contestant from Philadelphia's famous Wing Bowl. “Wingman” Joe Blanton is the guy who makes all the other guys look even better.

Halladay, Lee, and Oswalt have lifetime winning percentages above .600. Hamels lifetime winning percentage is nearly 30 points better than Blanton's .545. If this former 16-game winner is not traded, he just might post more wins than at least one of the Fearsome Foursome. This type of scenario isn't logical, but somehow always seems to play out within every team, every season.

Three:
Roy Halladay is a future Hall of Famer and the premiere pitcher in the game. His mound presence indicates that he could pitch and win in any era. With health, he should easily win more than 20 games again and leave lines scores as blunt as this short paragraph.

Four:
Cliff Lee stuck it to the Yankees in the offseason and he'll do the same to countless batters this year. There are those who think that because the Giants beat him in the Series, they'll beat him again in any potential playoff rematch. Mr. Cody Ross and any fan who has seen this superb lefty for more than a few games, know that he makes adjustments. That is what dominant pitchers do.

Five:
Carlos Ruiz emerged last year as one of the best all-around catchers in the game. Like a Stealth aircraft, his effectiveness has been above detection for a number of years. Besides his solid defense, this pugnacious backstop hit .302 last season, and would not bat in the lower third of many other teams batting orders. If he was moved to a higher position in the Phillies lineup, how would this sixth-year player perform? Check out his playoff numbers and then think about it.

Six:
Brad Lidge is still key to the team's potential success. While his fastball seems to have lessened, he showed renewed arm strength, compared to the 2009 season, and deepened his use of mound intelligence. His slider was nearly back to Eric Hinske foiling form as well. As the Phillies lineup has been less prolific in recent seasons, there have been less blowouts. In this revived pitching era, closers are needed to lock the end-game door more often.

Bottom line on the Phillies: With a relatively healthy roster, they could pass their all-time season record of 101 wins, which they set during the 1976 and 1977 seasons. With Charlie Manuel's even demeanor, and the creative aggressiveness of General Manager, Reuben Amaro, Jr., they should adjust to any challenges a season can bring. Their attitude already seems closer to their championship team of three seasons past, than that of the previous two campaigns. Alex Trebek hasn't yet asked supercomputer Watson, but how could any human mind not like Philadelphia's chances to replay 2008's final scene?

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Text - Philadelphia Flyers 2011 Stanley Cup Chances

My article was published by Yahoo Sports on 2/22/11 

The Pittsburgh Penguins 2008-09 path to Stanley Cup victory was paved by losing to the Detroit Red Wings in the 2007-08 finals.

Last June, when Philadelphia was defeated by the
Chicago Blackhawks, they fell short of winning their first Stanley Cup since 1974-75. The current Flyers team is on pace to win 50 games for the first time since the 1985-86 season when they amassed 53 victories, but failed to appear in the finals. According to Hockeyreference.com, they have only won fifty games five times in team history. The other four times they won fifty games they went to the finals and left their fingerprints on Lord Stanley's trophy twice.

Team depth and consistency seem to indicate that members of the orange and black will each grab that Cup during a June victory lap. But, hockey-nerds and their analysis are often thrown head first into dressing room lockers everywhere. Before that happens, let's review some facts before the first playoff puck is dropped.
Management:

Chairman Ed Snider's consistent commitment to excellence is the origin of the Flyers winning legacy. At the end of last season, they trailed only the Montreal Canadiens for the
best all-time winning percentage. This season, they became the first of the original expansion teams to achieve 1,000 home-ice victories.

Staying healthy is linked to a long and often-times winning run through the grueling NHL playoffs. Deep teams can survive the odyssey without some of their key components. The
1986-87 Flyers pushed one of the most dominant teams of all-time, the Edmonton Oilers, to a seventh game in that Cup series. Bill Meltzer, of Philadelphiaflyers.com, noted that they did so without 58-goal scorer Tim Kerr, who missed the entire series due to an injured shoulder.

General Manager Paul Holmgren's efforts to reload last summer moved a previously full roster past the saturation point. The lineup he has created is more than 20 players deep and seems to have enough elements to swat any potential playoff injury bugs. This former enforcer and
one-time 30 goal scorer has thoughtfully built a talented group that exudes character.

Coach Peter Laviolette's steady leadership is most evident when he makes in-game adjustments, including his ability to call needed timeouts. This
2006 Carolina Cup-winning coach understands modern player psychology. Every Flyboy knows what their Dad wants them to do at the rink on game day.
Between the Pipes:

While some goalies have performed adequately in past seasons, few truly standout playoff performances were registered until last season's goalie rotation nearly brought the Cup home. If you travel to Adirondack, Michael Leighton will certainly say that 'nearly' wasn't enough. In a
June, 1987 Sports Illustrated interview, Wayne Gretzky said that 1987 Cup series MVP Ron Hextall was the best goaltender that he had ever played against. Both the 1987 and 2010 Flyers teams lost the Cup, proving that varied goaltending exhibitions aren't the only element in final victory.

While shutouts have not been a part of the Flyers arsenal this season, steady goaltending has helped them to stay amongst the League leaders in points. Sergei Bobrovsky, while not perfect, wins games. 'Bob' has the best lateral movement in the League, but also has areas of his game that need improvement.

The rookie crouches very low in the net, allowing plenty of space for open targets above his shoulders. Backup Brian Boucher is also the better stick handler, which is why he generally seems to start against teams that dump and chase. Bob and Boosh have combined for a
save percentage that places them in the top 2/3 of the League, which is also the same range the team falls into for shots allowed per game (30).
Defense:

The six men who patrol the area in front of the net have enabled the team to be among the top 10 in fewest goals allowed. Chris Pronger, who leads the blue liners, has a presence on the ice that is reminiscent of Mark Howe's 1980's aura. While the Flyers performed well when the hulking 6'6' defenseman was briefly out with an injury, he remains a difference maker whenever he steps over the boards. While he plays a different style than Howe, there is no question that Pronger is the team's best overall defenseman since the Mike Keenan era.

Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, and Matt Carle have all performed solidly. Andrej Meszaros emergence has been the most surprising and is clearly linked to Sean O'Donnell's tutelage. Considered the third pair, these two would supplant many defensive duos on teams throughout the League. They have a strong combined +/- rating, with
Meszaros often leading the League in that category.
The Lines:

Laviolette's ability to mix-and-match the Lego-like lines Holmgren has provided, presents an ongoing challenge for opponents. The versatility of their front lines is a key reason why they have mostly battled the Vancouver Canucks for the
League lead in goals scored. They have too many offensive threats for other teams to adequately match lines against. Most opponents have been ground down by the third period in trying to hold off their top nine.

Captain Mike Richards, a complete two-way player, is amongst the
top 25 players in the League in points. Claude Giroux is an all-out All-star. His on-ice vision, puck control, and passing skills are outstanding and sometimes evoke comparison to those of former Flyer and now retired Avalanche, Peter Forsberg. Giroux is complimented by Danny Briere and Jeff Carter, who also demonstrate brilliance.

The offensive contributions from Ville Leino, Scott Hartnell, James van Riemsdyk, Andreas Nodl, and Nickolay Zherdev have helped to create balanced scoring that alleviates the need for any single player, or line, to carry the scoring burden.
Kris Versteeg, who was recently acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs, further deepens the versatility of the top three lines. His Cup experience with Chicago last year sweetens the addition even further.

The checkers include Blair Betts and Darroll Powe. While team enforcers Dan Carcillo and Jody Shelley are not the best in the League, they take care of business when needed. As a result, teams don't often mess with the Flyers top guys.
End Game:

Within the League this team ranks: in the
top 20 on the power play, in the top 10 on the penalty kill, and in the top 10 in penalty minutes. Despite that lack of dominance, they continue to battle Vancouver for the most wins and points in the League.

This group wins games in many different ways and is resilient, which is why they have not yet had long losing streaks. They force opponents to adapt to their style of play. This should translate into playoff series victories.

Are the Philadelphia Flyers poised to win the Stanley Cup? Their roster needs to remain relatively healthy throughout April and May. If so, they appear to have their strongest chance in decades of once again hoisting that elusive silver trophy during the League's final playoff game in June.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Text - Dead Peasant Policies

Corporations Secretly Purchased Life Insurance Policies On Their Employees

The information you are about to read will likely affect your thoughts about any company that you have ever worked for. But, be prepared. This story is more about questions, than it is about answers.

Peasant: An uneducated person who does not have a lot of money.

Life Insurance: A legal agreement where an insurance company receives premiums and, upon the death of an individual, pays a predetermined amount to a designated beneficiary.

How could those two divergent definitions be joined? Many corporations found a way to do so.

Sometimes we don't get to see a movie while it is in the theater. Other times we don't immediately watch a flick we may have purchased, or recorded. Recently, I watched a movie that came out over a year ago. Its plot revealed an unbelievable, yet factual, piece of information that is likely affecting countless workers everywhere.

Many well known corporations bought life insurance policies on their employees, without their knowledge or consent, and have been collecting payments upon their deaths. These payments were received regardless of whether the deceased person was a current, or a former employee.

How can those actions possibly be legal? Well, they were. Why has so little information been available about these matters? A list of the companies who are believed to have taken part in this practice might reveal that answer.

Winn Dixie Stores is believed to be one of the companies that pioneered this practice. That company bought life insurance policies on tens of thousands of employees in 1993, naming itself as the beneficiary. The actual phrases used to describe the employees in the policy documents were 'dead peasants' and the policy type itself was referred to as 'janitor insurance', which not so subtly reveals how the employees were thought of. None of these human beings were peasants and hardly any provided janitorial services to the companies they worked for.

The role of insurance companies in these ghoulishly greedy morality plays is obvious. So, there seems no need to waste any further space detailing why they chose to swim in these rich premium streams with their corporate customers.

These policies were originally bought to insure high level, executive, employees. Back office types must have jumped head-first through the legal loopholes they poked open when they began buying similar policies for rank and file employees. The secret nature of these pursuits seems to indicate full awareness that, if asked for consent, an employee would have no motivation to allow their employer to name itself as a sole beneficiary for a life insurance policy taken in her, or his, name.

In this video, a widow discusses a life insurance payment of $1,579,399.10 that was made after her husband had died of brain cancer. That sum was not paid to her, but instead to his surviving employer!


Due to numerous lawsuits, new federal and state laws began to be passed in 2006. Those laws required a company to provide information about and obtain consent from employees for these types of policies. No consent, no policy. Prior to 2006, only banks had been required to disclose certain information about these life insurance policies to their employees.

What is unclear is if any of the new laws have had an impact on policies, bought prior to 2006, that are still in effect. Also, are payouts continuing to be received from those policies?

The movie referenced earlier was Capitalism: A Love Story, which is a Michael Moore production. Whether you like him or not, there is no denying the information he presents in the film about this specific topic. However, if you choose not to accept it, then you should at least pursue information on your own.

Search any documents your company may have given you about life insurance and see if there is any mention of this type of policy. But, the Catch-22 involves a lack of information. Because if you don't know if a company has such policies, why would you assume that they did? If you want to take that leap and assume they do, how do you ask questions without potentially making yourself a target of office politics?

There is a safer route. Conduct an internet search about this topic. The internet is such a vast resource that it must definitely provide access to many useful links about this bizarre money scheme, right? Don't be so sure.

At the end of this open story we are reminded of two age-old pieces of wisdom: Never underestimate the power of human beings to do good. Never forget the ability some have to do the opposite.


This is the text version of my article that was submitted to philly2philly.com.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Text - Bucks County Conference

Bucks County's Network Now Conference Sparked by Appearances of
Lu Ann Cahn, Lynn Doyle, Jennaphr Frederick, and Jen Groover

Some see others as who they are, not as who they can become. But, each person must always recognize that they are the only expert on their own developing lives. One way to progress personally is by pursuing positive connections with others. Higher levels of mutual success and fulfillment will naturally result from those shared journeys.

Network Now recently held a conference that featured five prominent women at the Health and Wellness Center in Warrington, Bucks County.

The conference was highlighted by a panel discussion about effective methods business owners can use to pitch stories to the media. Distinguished guests included: NBC 10's Lu Ann Cahn, Comcast's Lynn Doyle, FOX 29's Jennaphr Frederick, and Jen Groover, founder of Jen Groover Productions.

The event involved the collaboration and support of many women, entrepreneurs, sponsors, and Laura Pedrick Photography. The U.S. Small Business Administration had business financing information available for all attendees. Ten vendors sponsored a one-hour networking session which included raffle prizes, goody bags, and Cabot Vermont cheese samples, prior to the start of the conference.

Cyndi Po, owner of Serenity Fit and author of The 5 How To's to a Healthier You, kicked off the night's festivities by reminding everyone that they need to be healthy and strong in order to run their own businesses.

Network Now founder, Jamie Broderick had previously worked in accounting, before reinventing herself as the leader of this business networking group for women in 2007. Originally meeting with twelve members in her home, the organization has grown so rapidly that it is has been able to attract well-known guests for their large events.

Broderick said, “The information that Jen Groover and the media panel provided was incredible. They were all so generous, knowledgeable, approachable, and funny.”

Broderick met Jen Groover, while attending a branding workshop, at the Pennsylvania Governor's Conference for Women.

While introducing Groover, Broderick enthusiastically said, “It has been said that Jen has enough energy to power the Eastern seaboard.”

Groover is a noted author, entrepreneur, television contributor, and creator of the Butler Bag. She immediately backed up Broderick's introduction by energizing the crowd with her entrepreneurial insight.
Networking is so important, which is why I love and stand by Network Now. My mentor taught me that your network is your net worth. I don't just mean that financially, but also emotionally, socially, psychologically, and spiritually. It is everything rolled up into one.

There is nothing that takes the place of your face in terms of networking. Speaking is one of the most underplayed ways that business owners can represent their companies. Everyone has an area of expertise and speaking to groups helps you to build your platform. From there, you can move on to television and radio,” Groover said.

Groover then moderated a panel discussion that focused on various ways business owners can effectively “pitch” (present) stories to media outlets. Each of the panelists spoke from accomplished backgrounds.

Lynn Doyle has won 9 Emmy awards during her 30-year career. She hosts “It's Your Call with Lynn Doyle”, a Comcast news show that focuses on issues of national importance. Doyle's broadcasts raise viewer awareness, while simultaneously providing a consistent model of how journalism can be effectively practiced.

The fears that I had when I first started in the 1970's and the challenges that I had to overcome, helped me to be the person that I have become. You have to experience failure in order to have success.

Someone can gain experience by doing shorter interviews on smaller formats. Make yourself available to anyone who is looking for an expert. I find media training, if it's done well, to be a very useful resource. The way to get on a show like mine is to be the best in your field and to be accessible,” Doyle said.

Lu Ann Cahn has won 8 Emmy awards and is the co-host of NBC's 10! Show. She spoke about how she had challenged herself to do something new each day in 2010. Check out her blog One Year of Firsts to learn more about her experiences.

When I took these little risks outside of my comfort zone, I became more comfortable with being uncomfortable. I began to see myself differently and other people around me began to see me differently. Opportunities came along, including co-hosting the 10 Show. During that year I learned that we can never stop learning and growing. When you get stuck, reinvent yourself,” Cahn said.

That was not the first time that Cahn stepped outside of her comfort level for the benefit of her viewers. In 1991, Cahn courageously took her fight with breast cancer public. Her choice to openly present a private matter to a public audience set a high ethical bar and positively impacted many lives. The manner in which she embraces her stories is always underscored by the approach that she took with that most personal one. She offered the same honest tone when discussing the types of story ideas she seeks.
I like emails, visuals, and lists. You are going to have to sell it to me and know your story. We're going to want to know what your credentials are. We bring people on television that have never been on television,” Cahn said.

Jennaphr Frederick has worked in the media since the 1990's. She joined the Fox family in 1999 and has been a member of Fox 29's Good Day Philadelphia morning team since 2003. She describes herself as a Mom of two, a snowboarder, a golfer, and a “wanna be” Rock Star.

Frederick has a personality that likely drew the media profession to her rather than vice versa.
The genuineness of her interviewing approach naturally sets her subjects and viewers at ease. In this age of countless media choices, people need a compelling reason to choose television, let alone a specific channel. She is one of those magnetic reasons, spurring interest in stories through her own inviting enthusiasm.

One of my challenges every day is defining myself. What I have learned, is that I'm only ever going to be me. I try to ask the questions that we all want to ask.

An Internet search engine is your best friend. They have lists that can inspire you. Use those lists to present ideas to us. When you want to pitch a list, always have plan B. Remember to ask where are we going to be and how long a segment will be. Make sure that you watch the show that you are pitching, so you know who you are pitching. Be fresh, be new, and be willing to listen,” Frederick said.

All of the prominent women who addressed the audience were inspirational. The manners in which they have built their lives and careers serve as models for others to learn from. Their presence at Network Now's conference highlighted the night and reinforced the importance of always expanding your network of contacts and friends.

We have received so much positive feedback about the event. We're not quite sure how we are going to top this one,” Broderick said.

For more information about Network Now, click on their website link.


(All contacts made with Network Now and the entire content of this article were developed through my own freelance sources, attendance at the function and writing efforts. Thank you to my friends at philly2philly.com for then posting it on their site in February, 2011.) 

Text - Just You, Only Better

This is the text version of my article that was published by philly2philly.com on 2/16/11

Emerging Organization Empowers Philadelphia Women

Every woman wants to look and feel better. We need to learn how to look inward, so we
can love ourselves more and so we can instill self-esteem in our children.” - Molly Napolitano.

I was honored to be asked recently to cover a workshop presented by one of Philadelphia's emerging organizations Just You, Only Better, whose founder, President, and CEO is Molly Napolitano. In response to this era of high stress and challenging economic times, her group offers women specialized one-day workshops and 30-day programs.

I wanted everyone to walk away with something valuable and to think, 'This was the best day I have had in a very long time.' Our mission is to improve health, happiness, and confidence …one woman at a time,” Napolitano said.

Napolitano earned her Master's Degree in Exercise and Sports Science from the University of Florida. She then specialized in exercise prescription for the elderly, developing and directing physical therapy ce nters in Florida. Currently, she is the Fitness Expert for GlobalFit, a leading provider of fitness and wellness programs for multinational companies and insurers. Expanding on the writing contributions she makes for GlobalFit's website, she also created
mollynap.com. That blog focuses on women's fitness, confidence, fashion, beauty, and health issues.

Just You, Only Better's recent one-day workshop, at The Pyramid Club inside the Mellon Building in Philadelphia, included a distinguished group of speakers. They engaged a large gathering by providing expertise on a wide array of important topics.

Karyn Pless, a working mother with two children who lives in Malvern, said, “I learned something different from each of the presenters today. Part of that was learning to be kinder to myself. I'm trying find time to quiet my mind, to take care of me, and to do the things that make me feel good.”

Dawn Kraut came from New York to attend the workshop with her sister Karyn. She said, “What I hope to take from this event are ways that I can improve the quality of my life, without changing it dramatically. The talk on meditation and yoga was fantastic! Yoga gives you a chance to breathe and to think about things.”

Denise Kelly, a veterinary technician from Philadelphia said, “If you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able to take care of anyone else. It's so important to take time for yourself and to relieve stress, even if it's just for just 30 minutes per day. I'm going to go back to work and to rave about this workshop.”

Napolitano also hosts free, self-esteem, workshops for young girls and their mentors sponsored by the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. Originating in the 1990's, the campaign emphasizes the image of real women with different body shapes. The goal is to get women to embrace and love themselves.

Noted entrepreneur, author, and television contributor, Jen Groover, joined forces with Napolitano, hosting a webcast preview of the workshop the night before the event.

Groover said, “The perspective that Molly and Biana offer to women is uniquely holistic and
adds a deeper value to understanding women's issues and empowerment.”

Napolitano who has spoken both nationally and internationally on women's topics, will be speaking at an upcoming event in San Francisco. She began this workshop with a presentation of how the media impacts the confidence of women and young girls.

We, as a collective force, need to reverse the trend of how women are presented in the media. So many people compare themselves to what they see. But, women are setting themselves up for failure because what they are seeing isn't real. There is no such thing as perfection,” Napolitano said.

Vicki Lukert, a physical therapist from Florida, spoke about the importance of women's health issues. Alice Dommert, co-founder of Deliver Me Yoga, discussed various ways to relieve stress. Sandy Weston, owner of Weston Fitness, made a presentation that was called “Train Your Head...Body Will Follow.” Her positive energy inspired the entire group to stand up and have fun by exercising just prior to lunch. She also offered all participants a free Zumba class after the event.

The easiest thing is just to do simple things and make little changes. Your mind gets use to doing something and it becomes part of your everyday life. I get energy from the people that I train,” Weston said.

After everyone enjoyed a shrimp salad lunch, Biana DeMarco offered “Fashion Tips to Help Reveal the Stylish and Sophisticated You.” DeMarco's fashion savvy was first tapped by Napolitano when she was asked to contribute to the Just You, Only Better website. Due to the strong response her Fashion Friday's segment created, the blog phillyfashionistas.com was born.

The blog began with a core group of friends following it and then formed a persona of its own, gaining fresh new readers. I have people telling me now that reading my blog has become a Friday morning ritual. They grab a cup of coffee and read my posts. I try to keep it current and entertaining and from the feedback that I have been getting, it reads like a magazine.

We are all creatures of habit. I help women identify their personal style, but also encourage them to step out of their comfort zone. I provide options on how to maximize their current resources. I show them how to obtain the essentials in a cost-effective way, making small wardrobe changes to achieve big sartorial results. I often discuss the necessary accessories and show ways on how to incorporate new trends,” DeMarco said.

Melinda Engel, a holistic nutritionist, spoke about a balanced diet. She also showed how to make amazingly nutritious shakes by using healthy ingredients. Janet Indorf, a top makeup artist who works for Bobbi Brown, demonstrated proper techniques for makeup application. Award-winning hair stylist Jeffrey Moffett, from Pileggi on The Square, provided advice on hair products and how to select a proper hair dresser.

Celebrity chef Brian Duffy, known for his creation of the “New Celtic” cuisine and a member of Chefs for Humanity, concluded the event's presentations. Duffy, who has been seen on the Food Network, The Today Show, and elsewhere, discussed healthy cooking, demonstrated creative knife techniques, and prepared a fabulous salsa.

Everyone who attended this five-star event was certainly inspired by it. But, they are also certainly inspired by people in their personal lives, as well as by other well-known individuals.

As for Molly's inspiration, “My husband, Frank Napolitano (President and CEO of GlobalFit) inspires me everyday. He believes in me more than anyone and urges me to take risks in order to be the best that I can be. Even when his schedule is completely full, he is always willing to help others to learn and grow.

And I love Ellen DeGeneres. She is always happy and has so much FUN on her show. She's authentic, real, and not afraid to be herself in front of the world. I would LOVE to be on her show someday,” Napolitano said.

For information about Just You, Only Better, simply click on their website.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Text - Kerry Fraser

My article was published by Yahoo Sports on 2/1/11
Retired NHL Referee Kerry Fraser is Still Making the Right Calls

Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemeiux, Mark Messier, and Guy LeFleur are indelible hockey names. Some of their greatest moments on the ice came while they were as young as Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews, and Steven Stamkos.

There are other individuals who skate on those same frozen ovals. These father-like figures, whose striped uniforms signal authority, maintain control of the game. Most officials offer solid efforts that are worthy of respect. Then there are those who, like legendary players, transcend the game through their vision, performance, and longevity.

On a dually historic day in Philadelphia last April, the Flyers beat the rival New York Rangers in a season-ending shootout. It was the first time that a team clinched a playoff spot in that fashion. It was also the last of 2,165 games that Kerry Fraser, then the League's senior referee, worked.

During my career I learned how to pay attention to detail, recognize my imperfections, and drop my wall. It takes some in-depth soul searching to make progress. I was just shy of my 58th birthday when I retired last season and I felt that I had given enough,” Fraser said.

The hockey world recognized more than his trademark hairstyle during Fraser's thirty-year NHL career.

In that final season, it all came together. The players and coaches around the league were proactive in approaching me and their recognition meant a lot. I knew I was ready to move into another area of life, spend quality time with my family, and look for new challenges.”

Preseason:

Fraser was born in 1952 and grew up in Sarnia, Canada, which is 60 miles north of Detroit, Michigan. He and his brother Rick enjoyed watching the Toronto Maple Leafs on television. They spent their early years playing on a backyard rink that their Dad, a player in the International League, had built for them.

That backyard practice eventually helped Fraser to become the 19-year-old captain of the Southern Junior “A” League's Sarnia Bees. In 1972, the Bee's played a game against the Detroit Junior Red Wings. Detroit's roster included a 16-year-old forward with a famous hockey name.
I sat with Mark Howe recently in the press box at Madison Square Garden. Back in the 1970's he was a boy in a man's body. I was 5'7” and about 140 pounds, while he was a number of inches taller and about 50 pounds heavier than me. Mark had just returned from playing in the 1972 Winter Olympics, in Japan, where the United States had won the Silver medal.”

Fraser vividly recalled a confrontation with a much younger Mr. Howe, which he detailed in his new book The Final Call: Hockey Stories From A Legend in Stripes.

During one game we played against his team, in my final season of Jr. A hockey, I gave Mark the hardest open-ice check that I possibly could. You never want to let another player see if you're hurt, but my insides shook after I checked him. That hit let me know that I needed to look for another type of work.”

Regular Season:

Through a referral of his Dad's hockey teammate, Ted Garvin, he attended the Haliburton Referee school in August, 1972. He worked through that decade, before earning a promotion to the NHL in 1980. He dropped his first puck in Colorado, when the Rockies faced off against the Minnesota North Stars.

Ted said that, to be a good official, I had to understand the game and not over-referee it. I had to know the difference between a good hit and an illegal one. He also told me that I needed to get inside the player's heads, so I would know how they think. As such, the game really needed former players who could share this background knowledge.”

Fraser re-married in June of 1988 and that September he, his wife Kathy, and their young children moved to a home in New Jersey that they bought from former Flyers coach, Mike Keenan.

Kathy's three daughters: Marcie, Jessica, and Jaime, were all adopted by Fraser after they were married. In 1990, Kerry and Kathy also had a daughter, Kara, together. They also have five grandchildren: Kiera, Daryn, Madyn, Brady, and Harrison, who are between the ages of one and nine.

Kerry had three sons from his first marriage: Ryan, Matthew, and Ian. During the 2006-2007 season Fraser was on a rehabilitation assignment in the AHL. While there, he was able to work a game with son Ryan, who is a referee in that league.

Due to the travel involved in Fraser's career, he missed some important family occasions. However, his position allowed for unique access to the hockey world. Kathy and the kids were often able to join him for regular season games in various cities and for special events including: playoff games, 12 Stanley Cup finals, the 1996 World Cup, the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, and All-Star games in 1990 and 2000.

Faith has become an important part of Fraser's life. He received the call to it in 1995, converted to Catholicism in 2001, and attempts to attend Mass daily.

A career that spanned three decades naturally included working games with all of the greats, including Wayne Gretzky. The two “legends of the game” formed a lasting bond through an unexpected event.

During a game in Los Angeles, I placed my hand on the bench while I was talking to their coach, Barry Melrose. Kathy had bought a pinky ring for me as a gift and it had gotten turned around on my finger, so the crucifix on the front side of it was not showing. Wayne was sitting on the bench, saw my ring, and was not impressed. I turned it around, so the crucifix was showing, and told him that it had been a gift from Kathy. He nodded his head, looked at me in way that showed he understood, and said, “That's great Kerry.”

From there, Wayne and I developed a unique relationship. He has a very special, quiet spirituality about him and was raised by two wonderful parents. I recognized his ability to accept his role as the face of the game and to do good for others.

He has tremendous recall and is a hockey historian. One time, when Kathy and I were having dinner with him in Phoenix, he told me that he remembered watching me play in the junior leagues when I was a teenager and he was a youngster.

Al Arbour and Scotty Bowman are two coaches Fraser felt were the best he ever saw. He offered accolades for two current coaches as well.

I love what Craig Ramsey is doing in Atlanta. He is a quiet, methodical, guy who has a great understanding of how to play the game and is so good with young players.
Peter Laviolette, in Philadelphia, is another person who has connected with his team.
He is taking the talent that he has and is allowing it to mature. He has a pulse on the game and is a perfect fit for Flyers.”

Like coaching, developing officiating skills takes time and effort.

Not unlike the great players who demonstrate a superior field of vision on the ice, good referees must learn how to adjust their positions in advance, so they can have the best sight lines of the play as it develops to observe the action without becoming tangled up in it. Over time, you form judgment as well. It was once stated that through Experience a referee acquires Judgment; through Poor Judgment he will acquire Experience! An academic mind is always thinking about getting better. You want to be astute, stay honest, and analyze your own work to become the very best that you can be.”

In the 1990's, the NHL tested a two-referee system. By the 2000's, they fully implemented it into the league.

There was an adjustment period to the two-referee system. We strove for consistency, similar to a defensive pairing. We had to learn how to work together as a team.

After the 2004-2005 lockout season, obstruction was addressed by the league, but head shots have remained a controversial topic. It is one that Fraser was involved in during his career, he even made a presentation about it at a Mayo Clinic Hockey Summit that he was invited to attend this past fall.

The restraining tactics that were coached and utilized following NHL expansion and we, as referees, allowed were horrific. A wise decision was made by the League to allow the skilled players to play, which added more excitement to the game. I have always taken a strong, opposing view of head shots. As officials, our first responsibility is to provide safety.

After returning from the lockout season, I assessed two game misconducts in separate games, but Colin Campbell (NHL Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations) and Steve Walkom (then NHL Director of Officiating) deemed them to be “good hockey hits” and rescinded the game misconducts. That sent a bad signal to everyone, officials and players alike, that those types of hits to the head were okay. Suspensions and loss of player salaries is the strongest deterrent that can be offered. The Players Association and the League need to decide this matter.”

During two of his final three seasons, including his last, the league did not allow him to work in the playoffs. An interesting decision, as he had often been voted the best referee in a League-wide vote of the players. It is worth noting that Fraser was an active member of the NHL Officials Association during his career and played a key role in their 1994 strike negotiations.

On the labor side, I was able to exercise a voice for those that may have been improperly disciplined, or terminated.”

Growing financial issues among some teams and player association matters have now formed on the NHL's horizon.

A potential labor situation is developing. Donald Fehr (recently named NHLPA Executive Director) gets the most for the people he is representing.
The salary cap is being increased. But, there are troubled markets. Atlanta needs to win to survive. Florida is struggling and the league-owned Phoenix team is going to be sold. Winnipeg and Quebec are two locations that could gain franchises in the future.”

Playoffs:

At the beginning of his final season, Fraser accepted an offer from Fenn Publishing to write a book about his career. Published in the fall of 2010, it became the number one selling hockey book in North America. The forward to it was written by Wayne Gretzky.

He credits his wife with keeping him on a schedule that began a week after his last season ended and for helping him to recall many of the great hockey anecdotes that fill the pages. He generally wrote for 18 hours a day in order to meet a 75,000 word commitment.

The fans want access to be in the game. The book allowed me to do that for them.”

Beyond the humorous, sometimes controversial, and great behind the scenes stories from Fraser's 30-year NHL career, his book also offers a very human narrative. It draws the reader into a world only previously viewed from their arena seats, or in front of a television set.
I have received a lot of positive feedback, including a recent message from a 28-year-old USA hockey referee. He told me that he was ready to quit the game, because he had suffered such abuse. But, he credited my book with helping him to take the chip off his shoulder and to refocus on developing relationships with players and coaches.”

Fraser has recently joined TSN, in Canada, as a post-game analyst. He will be featured on “That's Hockey 2Nite”, during segments called “C'mon Ref”, with host Steve Kouleas and fellow panelist Matthew Barnaby.

I'm comfortable in front of the cameras and love to share insights. I think I can provide a unique perspective and help to educate viewers about the rules of the game, in addition to sharing personal experiences and stories like those that have made The Final Call a best seller. There is a market and a desire for people to learn something different. In the future I might start a blog, or even write another book.”

Overtime:

As a boy, he played hockey on backyard rink in Sarnia. As an adult, he became a professional referee who will likely gain entrance into the NHL Hall of Fame. At the end of our interview Kerry Fraser, the grandfather, said that he was going to go watch his nine-year-old grandson Harrison play hockey. A final comment that combined his love of family with his continuing passion for the game.





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