On Friday afternoon, retired NHL referee Kerry Fraser announced that he has been diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer – a rare chronic blood disorder called essential thrombocythemia. The disease is part of the leukemia family. Fraser was a talented NHL referee for 30 years before he retired in 2010 after a Flyers and Ranger game.
Fraser is infamously known for quite a few reasons. He holds the record for most NHL regular season and playoff games refereed. But the real reason many might know him is because of the 1993 Stanley Cup Final when he missed a pretty important call on Wayne Gretzky.
Maybe you don’t remember specific games Fraser called, but maybe you know him from online. He has quite the presence on twitter under the handle @kfraserthecall and will still stop to take fun pictures with fans.
— DartGuy (@LeafsMaz20) September 23, 2017
Fraser also enjoys interacting with users online that might have questions about a call during a game. He will even sometimes morph into a “contributor” role after he posted a great story in the Players Tribune in 2016. Spoiler alert: it’s all about referee stories, mentions his shining moment in 1993, and is really good.
Fraser told his story on NHL.com as a part of Hockey Fights Cancer month. In the post, Fraser notes that the doctor said he would need a bone marrow biopsy to be certain that the disease has not progressed. Fewer than one in 100,000 people in any year are diagnosed with essential thrombocythemia.
I consider myself blessed that this rare disease was diagnosed before I had a stroke or heart attack. At 65, I was planning on living a healthy, full life for many more years. Now that I know I have this disease I can take extra precautions to keep my blood thinner and hopefully prevent a blood clot from hitting my heart or brain.
My family gives me strength and a good reason to prioritize my goals in life. My faith gives me the peace to know that all is in God’s hands. Kathy gave me a reading that I used at the funeral of my dad, Hilt, 16 years ago … “We pass through this life but once. Therefore any good that I may do, or any kindness that I may show, let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again!”
The NHL has given me a vehicle to help others with its Hockey Fights Cancer initiative. After 30 years as an NHL referee and seven years since my retirement, I still live and breathe hockey, but I’ve come to realize that people are more important than the game I love. The players, the coaches, the general managers, the officials, the security representatives, the off-ice crews, hockey operations, the vice presidents, the Deputy Commissioner, the Commissioner and the owners … all one big family with wives, children and grandchildren of their own. As in all families, we have been known to battle … the NHL and I, but I am proud to say I am part of that hockey community, that brotherhood, that family. We now stand together and fight for a common cause.
Kerry is a strong dude and we’re sending him, and his family, all our good thoughts during his battle.
Headline image: Dave Sandford/NHLI
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