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Biofile Curt Fraser Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Status: NHL left winger from 1978-1990 with Vancouver, Chicago and Minnesota. Scored 193 goals in 704 games with 1,306 PIM. Current coach of the American League’s Grand Rapids Griffins.

Ht: 6-feet-1 Wt: 200 pounds

DOB: Jan. 12, 1958 In: Cincinnati, Ohio

Hockey Inspirations: “I met Gordie Howe when I was 10. My dad was a hockey player, he won the Memorial Cup in Flin Flon in 1957. And along the way I watched Bobby Orr and all those guys. Bobby Clarke became my favorite years later when I became diabetic – he used to help me out a lot. He was kind of a cool guy to talk to and help me out.”

First Hockey Memory: “Playing peewee in Quebec City. That was when I was really a young guy. Everything was around my dad. Anything that happened in hockey was because of him. And he used to drag me to the rink all the time. And he got me started in this. And a long time later – 50 years later – I was still hanging around the game so I’ve been very lucky.”

Nickname: “‘Frazz’ – that’s it. The only thing they sort of called me. It’s any easy one.”

Favorite Movie: “Gladiator.”

Last Books Read: “Oh my gosh, I don’t know…Good To Great. I usually read that about once a year. (By who?) You’re asking all kinds of crazy questions, aren’t ya? (smiles) Ask John Tortorella. He started us off when they won the Cup (in Tampa). I read lots of sports books. Now it’s so tough getting to know all these young players who are coming along and their backgrounds, their stats. That’s my new book – learning all the new kids we have each year.”

Musical Tastes: “Boy, that’s a tough one. I’m an old-time guy, probably Rod Stewart, U2.”

First Job: “What would you call it. Not a waiter. I cleared the tables at a restaurant. Busboy. (Name of restaurant?) No, gosh, I’ve had too many concussions (smiles). That was an awful long time ago.”

Current Car: “GMC Sierra truck (silver).”

Greatest Sports Moment: “Couple. Going to Stanley Cup final back in ’82 (with Vancouver vs. Islanders). That was a pretty fond memory. Being down three-to-nothing in the conference final when I was coaching the Orlando Solar Bears, coming back to win 4-3 in double-overtime to go to the Turner Cup, that was kind of fun. A real nice journey. There’s so many great memories, so many good players who I played with.”

Most Painful Moment: “Well, I had 16 operations when I played, so. Most painful moment – I don’t know. There’s a lot of them. Every Saturday night in Chicago Stadium when I played.”

Favorite Uniforms: “Blackhawks. Tough to beat that uniform.”

Favorite Arena: “Old Chicago Stadium. The best.”

Most Memorable Goal: “Chicago Blackhawks against Toronto, overtime. To make it my first hat trick ever. That was kind of fun. Back in the mid-‘80s – ’85 maybe.”

Funny Hockey Memory: “I was asleep in the plane. We start to come in for a landing. It was a 747 back then, light years ago. And I open my eyes, look around for my shoes and look up – they’re tied up in the middle aisle, up above little old ladies, sleeping, hangin’ in there in the middle of this 747. So up I went, had to get ’em down. That happened all the time, there was a lot of jokesters around.”

Closest Hockey Friends: “A lot of good friends that I played with. I played with Troy Murray, Eddie Olczyk for five-plus years in Chicago. I played for Thomas Gradin and Stan Smyl for five years in Vancouver. A lot of good friends. But hockey friends – best friend – Mark Lofthouse. We grew up together playing hockey, then he went to the Capitals, played for the Red Wings, Flyers. And I bounced around. But we still see each other all the time.”

Funniest Player Encountered: “Peter Mahovlich is one of them. A real good guy. He’s here tonight. Tough to narrow that down. Hockey players – one good thing about hockey players is they’re all good people. They’re all good guys, there are a lot of funny guys along the way. It’s tough to pick out one of them. Jim Bedard – the goaltending coach of the Detroit Red Wings. Right now he keeps me entertained.”

Toughest Competitors: “Terry O’Reilly, Bobby Nystrom, Behn Wilson. There were a lot of guys around that were pretty tough when I played.”

Strangest Game: “Maybe one exhibition game years ago when I was with Vancouver, we were playing in Kenora, Ont. And after the first three minutes of the game, the referee stopped the game and went to both hockey benches and said, ‘No more dumping the puck in.’ What was happening was, when you dumped the puck in there was about a two-inch space in the end boards and the puck kept going out of the rink (smiles). So they stopped that.”

Embarrassing Hockey Memory: “I don’t know, I’m sure there were a bunch. Probably back in junior, when I was 18, three-on-one. Three high-end players were coming at me – and for some reason I was back on defense. The puck came right to me. And I turned. And as I was turning I was moving – and I shot it. And I was trying to shoot it towards the corner – shot it right to the top of the net. Came back to the bench. Our coach looked at me, shook his head, because it was against our rivals – the New Westminster Bruins. And I played with the Victoria Cougars. Our coach – the death stare that he gave me (laughs). Would never ever, ever come close to letting that happen again.”

Favorite Players To Watch: “You won’t believe this one, but Paul Holmgren. When I was in junior hockey playing, I thought he was the greatest. And then I got to play against him a few years later – and it wasn’t so easy to play against him (laughs). Just so many players. You know we got a great guy – I was Mike Modano’s first roommate in Minnesota. And 22 years later, I’m hanging around with him every day as he plays with the Detroit Red Wings now. Just funny how life works. The hockey business is a small place. You get to meet a lot of great people and it seems to circle around. And you see ’em again years and years down the road. Run into them again. And they’re the same people, if not better. So it’s been fun to be around Mike again.”

Favorite Sports Outside Hockey: “My kids all play hockey, football, lacrosse. I like lacrosse. Obviously I watch the NHL and baseball. It’s fun watching kids play lacrosse. That’s a tough game, but very entertaining.”

Personality Qualities Most Admired: “When you’re a coach looking for players, you look for players with great character. People who work hard, committed to excellence. That would be the same qualities that I look at in people who I meet every day. Same thing. Looking for people who you can depend and count on and trust.”

The Curt Fraser Biofile interview was originally published at The Hockey News web site in 2010 and in Scoop’s book 80’s Hockey Biofiles available at amazon books for $14.99

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