|Rich Clune, Colin Fraser at Dodger game|
It’s been a busy week in the land of Mulletgate.
After the Mike Richards press conference on Wednesday, Kings GM Dean Lombardi let it be known he was still keeping his options open when it came to dealing with the aftermath of the Ryan Smyth trade – although indicating things would become more clear in the next 48 hours.
True to his word, two dominoes fell. Center Colin Fraser did in fact have surgery in Los Angeles – ending speculation that he might miraculously heal without it – and on Friday the Kings formally filed their complaint with the league office.
Where things go from here is anybody’s guess. The most likely scenarios mentioned - Fraser remaining on the Oilers roster until he’s cleared to play (that’s a cap savings) and/or additional compensation being given to Los Angeles in the form of a draft pick.
One thing is clear though, Fraser can’t wait to put it all behind him and is hoping he’s a fast healer.
As we stood on the grass at Dodger Stadium Friday night, with Jarret Stoll rigorously playing catch in front of us, Fraser opened up about the drama surrounding the Kings-Oilers trade this summer.
“It’s a long story,” Fraser began. “When I got traded I didn’t get the news that I obviously wanted to hear about the foot. It wasn’t getting better. As far as Dean (Lombardi), the Kings and the Oilers, I don’t really know what’s going on. That’s between the two organizations to figure out and I’m just kind of caught in the middle. Even my friends are asking me what’s going on and I say, ‘Honestly, I have no idea.’ So, I just have to get better and get back on the ice and play. That’s it.”
Of course, that led to the obvious question – when? “I just had surgery on Wednesday and hopefully I’ll be ready for camp. But, it’s going to be close. If it goes quick (the healing), I’ll be ready for camp. If not, it will be just after camp.”
Maintaining a positive attitude seems to come easy for him, as evidenced by some of his air time in Oil Change, a documentary on this past season’s Edmonton Oilers. (If you missed it, think HBO 24/7, the Canadian version.) “Yeah, I try to keep it light,” Fraser explained. “I’m a vocal guy. I like to talk a lot and, I guess, run my mouth a little bit – but, all in good fun and all in good humor.”
So, putting his chirping skills to the test seemed like the right thing to do at that point. Several other Kings were present and getting ready to throw out the first-pitch before the Dodgers and Diamondbacks took to the field. Who was going to groove one in there and who was going to throw wild?
“I can’t really get on these guys too hard because I just met them (referring to the other players at the game – Stoll, Rich Clune, Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez and Scott Parse),” Fraser said, perhaps backpedalling a wee bit. “I need to feel ‘em out first before I start getting after them.”
However, as I was about to suggest he’s going to need come out firing much stronger at camp in September, his natural instincts must have taken over – “The rule is don’t come up short. That’s what I’m told. And Stolly did bring his own glove today, so he’s ready. He’s prepared. He’s a seasoned vet at this, I think. He knows what it’s all about. He’s got this down pat. I think he’s got the ace for sure.”
Fraser’s former roommate in Edmonton, Dustin Penner, was due to arrive any minute to join the group too. “You talk about funny guys, that guy is funny,” said Fraser. “He can outwit anybody.”
Anybody? Even Matt Greene? “I haven’t met Greener. Heard a lot of good things though,” Fraser proclaimed.
Once the season rolls around, the Kings will have a pretty strong roster on paper. Something that has to be appealing to Fraser, coming from the team that finished last in the Western Conference.
“I called my dad when I got traded. He was most excited about the fact the team was going to be a good team,” Fraser said with plenty of excitement in his voice. “They were supposed to be one of the top teams last year and maybe didn’t have as good of a year as some people thought. But, I think we’re right there at the top of the league now. I played in Chicago when we were at the top of the league and it’s a lot of fun to be on a winning team. To have the opportunity to win again is really exciting.”
Now, if somebody could just tell several league executives exactly when that opportunity may come for him, tensions may start to slowly dissipate.
[update: vote in the poll - How should the NHL resolve the Kings-Oilers grievance?]
Welcome to the Dustin Penner Comedy Hour – this summer’s don’t miss article