By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
Kirk Fraser has decided it's time for a change.
So, after 11 seasons as the voice of the Kamloops Blazers on Radio NL, he has moved on to a position with the programming department at Shaw Communications.
“I enjoyed the work,” Fraser said Wednesday afternoon. “I enjoyed being in the radio booth for all 72 games of the season. I still really enjoy doing that work but the time was right for me to, as they say, explore other things.”
A native of Camrose, Alta., Fraser joined Radio NL prior to the 1999-2000 WHL season. He had spent 1997-98 called Red Deer Rebels' games, and handled Kootenay Ice games in 1998-99.
When he first joined Radio NL, it was in the role of sportscaster/play-by-play voice. He later moved to the Blazers where he handled their communications and did play-by-play. But he got caught up in the restructuring that went on within the organization. He then found himself doing play-by-play and communications, but at arm's length from the team.
“It kept evolving to what it is now,” said Fraser who, with his wife, Kathy, will continue to live in Kamloops. “I am a contract employee with Radio NL. I didn't really have anything to do with the hockey club directly at this point.”
And now, of course, he is on to something else.
The move, he said, “is something that I've been tossing around in my head for some time now, and the people at Shaw have been very accommodating in trying to find a spot for me. They approached me with a full-time opportunity about a month ago.
“We sat down and talked about it and it really was the right time for me.”
He has been working for Shaw for a few months and, in fact, has covered local sporting events, including Blazers news conferences, on its behalf.
Now he hopes to get involved in the production end of things and might even end up involved with Shaw's extensive WHL telecast package.
“I would really like to,” Fraser admitted. “That's out of my control but I'm hoping that's the case.”
In the meantime, he looks back on his days as the voice of the Blazers with only one real regret.
“Like everybody else,” he said, “I would have liked to have seen the team enjoy more success. But a lot of that stuff is out of your control, so. . . .”
In 11 seasons with the Blazers, he never got to do a second-round playoff game. In those 11 seasons, the Blazers were bounced from the playoffs in the first round on 10 occasions; one other time, they didn't make the playoffs. Coincidentally, Red Deer bowed out in the first round in 1997-98, while Kootenay did the same in 1998-99.
Before he gets seriously involved in his next full-time career, Fraser has one thing he must get done. He is scheduled to have reconstructive surgery on his right knee on July 28 to repair what he called a “lingering injury.” It is something that has bothered him since he arrived here.
Still, he managed to continue his slo-pitch career.
He played through it all, he said with a chuckle. “Through the pain. Through the agony . . . being out of shape.”
And he was able to play in about 60 games this season, too.
The recovery time, he said, is six to nine months.
“It gets me back just in time for next season,” he said.
That would be next season as in slo-pitch . . . not hockey.
Jim Reynolds, the operations manager at Radio NL, indicated that the search for a replacement already has started and that he hopes to have someone in place by Sept. 6.
The Blazers open training camp Aug. 26 and play their first two exhibition games on Sept. 3 and 4.