Ian Clark's On Hockey: Fraser adapts to role with Monarchs
MANCHESTER -- Colin Fraser brought two Stanley Cup rings and a good attitude to town.
The veteran of 358 NHL games joined the Manchester Monarchs last week and made his debut in the Queen City Friday night in Manchester's 4-3 shootout loss to Springfield. The Monarchs host Worcester today at 3 p.m. at Verizon Wireless Arena.
Fraser has played in 33 games this season with Los Angeles, registering two assists in limited action on the fourth line. He was placed on waivers two weeks ago and cleared, paving the way for his arrival in Manchester.
Fraser said he wasn't told why he was sent down or what he needed to do to return to L.A. by Kings coach Darryl Sutter or anyone in management.
"Nothing," Fraser said. "All I knew, I was put on waivers, I cleared waivers and was going to Manchester and that's all I know. They keep you in the dark."
Despite the disappointment, Monarchs head coach Mark Morris said that Fraser came in with a great attitude and willingness to do whatever was needed.
"He exudes character," Morris said. "When we sat down, the first thing he said was 'you don't need to worry about me. I just want to play. Obviously, I'd like to be back in the NHL, but I won't sulk and I won't hang my head and I'll play whatever role you want me to play.' That's exactly what I had envisioned him being as a player."
The 29-year-old Fraser won his first Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010 and was with the Kings for their Cup win in 2012. Fraser said he knows his experience is needed on a young Manchester team.
"(Morris told me) be a leader. We've got a young team. I'm that older, veteran guy now. I've become that guy. It's funny to think like that," Fraser said. "(Just) lead by example. I'm a vocal guy, I like to talk a lot. I'm pretty positive."
Fraser was playing around six minutes a game in Los Angeles, so it was refreshing for him to come to Manchester and become a contributor right away. Fraser even logged penalty kill and power-play time, the latter Fraser said he had not played since his days with Rockford in the AHL in 2007-08.
"It was a lot of fun. I said to my wife it will be fun to get a regular shift and I played more than I thought, probably the most I've ever played in my life," Fraser said. "For six years playing six, eight, 10 minutes in a role that I'm super happy and will play for as long as I can in the NHL of course, but to play on the power play and penalty kill and get a regular shift is a big difference and a lot of fun."
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Send for backup: Goaltender Martin Jones is expected to be on his way back to Los Angeles today, meaning the Monarchs are in need of a body to sit on the bench against Worcester.
Rookie Mathias Niederberger will start the game for Manchester if Jones is not available, but with J.F. Berube unable to return to the Monarchs until Monday from his call-up to Los Angeles during the Olympic break, someone will have to be signed on short notice to back up Niederberger and Morris said he had no idea what was going to happen.
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Milestone for Soupy: Friday night's game was the 400th of Manchester defenseman Andrew Campbell's career. The captain, known as Soupy to his teammates, is the first player to reach 400 games with the Monarchs.
"It's a lot of games. It's pretty cool when you think about it to play 400 professional hockey games, when you're growing up you don't really think that will happen one day," Campbell said. "That's a lot of games in the minor leagues and hopefully I can play that many in the NHL down the road."
Ian Clark covers pro hockey for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.