Gretz deflects the what-ifs

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:25 AM ET

Even though he never played for the them, Wayne Gretzky always has had an affinity for the Maple Leafs.

But many Leafs fans perceive him as a villain for his performance in Game 6 of the 1993 Stanley Cup semi-finals when he scored in overtime for the Los Angeles Kings despite having clipped Leafs captain Doug Gilmour on the face with his stick moments earlier.

In that era, any high-sticking infraction causing injury resulted in an automatic game misconduct.

But referee Kerry Fraser didn't make the call and, as far as Toronto fans are concerned, that was a mistake that will live in infamy.

They conveniently ignore the fact that if penalties had been called to the letter of the law in that series, Gilmour would not have been on the ice to get cut. His head butt in a previous game would have resulted in a mandatory three-game suspension.

But that aside, Fraser's infamous non-call is seen by many fans as the reason the Leafs did not win the 1993 Stanley Cup, even though they would still have had to win in overtime. And beat the Montreal Canadiens in the final.

The Kings lost the final in five games to Montreal. They won the first game in the Forum, then lost the second when Marty McSorley was caught with an illegal stick in the final moments of Game 2. The Canadiens tied the score on the ensuing power play, then went on to win that game and the next three.

"I can't speculate on what would have been or what would have happened if Kerry had made that call," Gretzky said yesterday.

"The reality is that if I had gotten the penalty, we still may have won anyway. To hypothesize like that is like me saying we would have won the Stanley Cup had Marty's stick not been caught. That's probably not true.

"Of course the fans are frustrated at that time, and they wanted it to be a penalty, but I wasn't the referee. And I don't think it was a question of Kerry not wanting to call it. I think he didn't see it.

"I didn't do it on purpose. I didn't even know it had happened. After the game, everybody was showing it to me and telling me, so that's when I knew, but obviously, I didn't do it on purpose."


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