Fraser brings Cup back to Sylvan Lake
Former Red Deer Rebels captain Colin Fraser battled through one of the more frustrating seasons of his career in 2013-14, but the silver lining was he was still able to lift Lord Stanley’s silver chalice at the end of it.
He shared this glory with Sylvan Lake on Sunday while raising money for the city’s new multiplex.
“It was pretty remarkable, it was one of those crazy storylines with how we won it,” said Fraser, 29.
“To be there every step of the way, everyone has their role, and I had my role, I wish I could have played a bigger role, but I’ll take it anyway I can get it.”
Fraser struggled to stay in the lineup with the Los Angeles Kings this season and was sent down to the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League in February. He was recalled during the team’s first round playoff series with the San Jose Sharks, but never did get into a game.
Still as a member of the Kings, he got his name on the Stanley Cup for the third time, previously winning it in his first year with the Kings in 2012 and in 2010 with the Chicago Blackhawks.
In both of those runs he played a bigger part of the championship.
In 33 games with a loaded Kings’ team this season he had three assists and 30 penalty minutes and was a minus-4. In 10 games in Manchester he had six points (three goals, three assists), four penalty minutes and was a plus-3.
Now he is an unrestricted free agent after his two-year, $1.85 million deal expired at the end of the season.
With NHL training camps starting up in a few weeks, the phone probably will not ring until then, once teams have a chance to really see what they have and what they need.
If that opportunity does not come in North America, he will look overseas.
In the meantime, he’s making sure he is ready when the call does come.
“I’m working out and skating just how I would if I had a contract, nothing changes with that,” he said. “I’m staying motivated in hopes something falls in place. Something will, it’s just a matter of when and where.”
His time in L.A. was eventful.
It started with controversy, however, when the Edmonton Oilers dealt him along with a seventh round pick in exchange for Ryan Smyth in 2011.
However, he was still recovering from an injury that ended up needing surgery. The extent of the injury was not discovered until after the deal was completed and Kings general manager Dean Lombardi filed a grievance against the Oilers.
It was widely reported at the time that the Kings had intended to buyout or waive the former Rebel in a cap-saving move, but could not do so with Fraser on the injured list.
What this did do, however, was buy him time and a chance with the Kings.
“When I was traded there with a broken foot, I didn’t even know if I was going to be there, and I told my wife to be prepared to go to Manchester three years ago,” he said. “They gave me an opportunity to show myself and to play coming out of my injury. Three years later I was still there.
“It was a fast three years, a whirlwind, but to be on such a good team ... good teams have a good group of guys and it really was the best group of guys.”
His efforts earned him a two-year contract extension in 2012 and two Stanley Cups in three years.
Fraser also brought the Cup to Sylvan Lake in 2012, despite being a Surrey, B.C., native.
“This is home now, we have our own children and this is where we are going to raise our kids,” he said. “I have B.C. blood in me, but at the same time I’m an Albertan now and will be in the future. Living here in town, it’s important for me to bring (the Cup) here.”
On Sunday he was also raising money for the NexSource Multiplex, charging $5 donation for people to have their photo taken with the Cup.
“This is just one more reason why Sylvan Lake is Hockeyville. You can see everyone get excited about it,” said Sylvan Lake mayor Shawn McIntyre. “Not only is he sharing (the Cup) with us, he also has some vision to help us rebuild our community. To see him join up with that effort is great and we’re so happy to have it.”
Sylvan Lake won the Kraft Hockeyville contest this spring, earning $100,000 towards the project and the opportunity to host an NHL exhibition game on Sept. 24 between the Calgary Flames and the Phoenix Coyotes.
McIntyre says they will have the game playing on big screens outside of the 1,000-seat arena so everyone can watch the game and make for more of a festival atmosphere.
“We had over five million votes to make Sylvan Lake Hockeyville and that means people all across Alberta and all across Canada were supporting us,” he said. “I hope that everyone of them can come out and have that party with us, celebrate what they worked towards and have a good time.”