Depending on how you look at it, the NHL career of Los Angeles Kings forward Colin Fraser is either one to pass on, or one to pray for.
The 29 year-old Fraser has had to work hard for his spot on an NHL roster throughout parts of eight seasons in the big league, logging just over 350 regular season games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, and LA Kings.
Fraser also has two Stanley Cup rings, and his name on sports’ most coveted trophy to back up that enviable jewelry collection.
In 2010, the British Columbia native won the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks, despite not getting any game action in the Final, then won again in 2012 with the Kings and scored the opening goal in Game 1 of the Final.
This season, Fraser found himself in and out of the lineup, playing in only 33 of the first 59 games, before being put on waivers, and subsequently sent to the Kings’ AHL affiliate, Manchester Monarchs, at the start of the Olympic break.
The demotion was naturally difficult for Fraser who hadn’t been down to the minors in six straight years.
“It was a tough situation for me and I didn’t want to go there, nobody does, but with that being said, the only way to get back is to play and I felt I did a good job of that and here I am and hopefully I get to play here and re-prove myself that I can stay,” states Fraser.
While with Manchester, Fraser was able to play a regular shift, including special teams time, and scored three goals and six points in 10 games with the Monarchs.
Just 10 games?
On March 14, Fraser suffered a broken hand while inadvertently blocking a shot in the last few minutes of a 7-0 Manchester win, and as a result missed five weeks of action.
During that time, the Fraser family was able to leave the hotel in Manchester and come back to their home in Hermosa Beach so that Fraser could rehabilitate in Southern California.
“I was very fortunate that the Kings, Dean, and management let me come back here even though I was technically still on Manchester’s roster,” explains Fraser, who skated on his own and went to the gym to keep in shape.
Fraser rehabbed just in time to make it back for Manchester’s final game of the season on April 18, during which he earned an assist.
“Being sent to the minors, I can say I had a lot of fun down there. It was nice to play a regular shift and play on the power play and just kind of have a bigger role. I certainly want to make it back to the NHL going forward and I want to play as long as I can,” Fraser admits.
After the last game of the Monarch’s regular season, the team was granted a couple days off, during which Fraser returned to LA for Easter with his wife, and kids.
Fraser was on board a plane headed back to Manchester during Game 2 of the Kings’ Western Conference Quarterfinal matchup with the San Jose Sharks, so he didn’t catch the game, but shortly after he landed, he was notified by Kings management that he would be put right back on the plane, headed back to Los Angeles.
The Kings could have used Fraser’s popular ‘Make ‘em Pay’ mantra during the first two games of the San Jose series, as they found themselves trailing, 0-2 with the series shifting to LA for Games 3 and 4.
It would have been understandable for anyone in Fraser’s situation to have complained and displayed a bad attitude over the course of the last couple months, but Fraser just isn’t that type of person.
Fraser can easily be described as one of the ‘good guys,’ someone with an infectious positive attitude who brings life and energy into the locker room as well as onto the ice, and his work ethic has always been top notch.
“Truth be told, I don’t like listening to other people complain,” says Fraser. “You get the ‘poor me’s,’ and I don’t want to hear it, so I’m assuming nobody wants to hear me complain.”
“At the end of the day, I’m playing hockey. I’ve played in the NHL for six years and a little adversity never hurt anybody, but a bad attitude gets you nowhere,” continues Fraser, a self-proclaimed ‘happy,’ ‘positive’ guy. “Could be a lot worse.”
One of the LA Kings who is active on Twitter (@ColinFraser), Fraser divulged that he does see the messages that fans tweet to him, including many that welcomed him back to LA.
“It was for the most part, nice messages – they’re not always nice messages, but take it in stride, it’s all good,” laughs Fraser. “I wasn’t forgotten about I guess.”
Such is the attitude from a guy who can actively poke fun at himself for having the shortest autograph line at Tip-A-King, the team’s annual fundraiser…the same guy who has told the couple made popular by the in-game ‘Kiss Cam’ that they were more famous than he.
It’s all part of what makes Fraser a valuable part of the team, whether he’s on the ice or not.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here,” Fraser says. “I’ve been here for the better part of three seasons, so the fans, they’ve seen me play, they know what I can bring and I’m just hoping for that opportunity again.”
With the Kings trying to win Game 5 tomorrow night in San Jose, there are a few people who are hoping for the same thing.
Like, all of Los Angeles.
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