Vancouver Province article (Kramer's unenviable fight record)October 5 2011 at 12:47 PM
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Kramer's unenviable fight record
He acknowledges 46 fighting majors last year, but rarely as the instigator
By Steve Ewen, The Province
October 5, 2011
Vancouver Giants' Wes Vannieuwenhuizen at odds with Spokane Chiefs' Darren Kramer in a WHL game last December at Pacific Coliseum.
Photograph by: Steve Bosch - PNG Files, The Province
In this age where every second person seems to be bashing fighting in hockey, Darren Kramer's stats stick out like a sore fist.
According to hockeyfights.com, the Spokane Chiefs left-winger had 46 fighting majors in 68 WHL regular season games last year. That's more bouts combined than the league's next two busiest pugilists, Seattle Thunderbirds centre Jacob Doty (24) and Kamloops Blazers left-winger Ryan Hanes (21), and it's one fewer than George Parros, the Anaheim Ducks right-winger who topped the NHL with 27 toe-to-toe tilts in 2010-11 had the past two campaigns.
Forty six. It is a through-the-roof number. It's unfathomable almost. It is too easy to stop there, though, and jump to judgment.
The Chiefs, who face the Vancouver Giants at the Pacific Coliseum tonight (7 p.m., AM 650), thought Kramer dependable enough that they used him in all 17 of their playoff games last spring.
The Ottawa Senators, after watching him put up eight goals, 14 points and 306 penalty minutes in league play and five goals, eight points and 21 PIMs in the postseason, picked him in the sixth round of the entry draft last summer. Spokane followed that by naming him captain for this season.
His resumé is definitely unique. "I know there's an ongoing discussion about fighting, but, in my mind, there's always going to be a need for it in the game of hockey," said Kramer, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound Peace River, Alta., native, who turns 20 next month and has one goal and two penalty minutes in one appearance with the 1-1-0-0 Chiefs this season. "Guys are going to start taking liberties if you take it out.
"It's controlled well with the instigator rule. Most guys are not stupid about it. Most guys are honest with it."
It is unusual to see someone back the instigator, and it's more than just words for Kramer. With all the scraps last year, he picked up an additional minor for starting the bout on only three occasions.
"I didn't go to the rink planning to fight," said Kramer. "I knew it was part of my role, though."
He says that he's never been hurt during a fight. He worries about concussions, but maintains "it's something every player should worry about. It's a fast-paced game. You look at what's happened to Sidney Crosby."
He also wonders if people are being too quick to connect their roles as enforcers to the deaths of Rick Rypien, Wade Belak and Derek Boogaard.
"It's an awful situation, but you also don't know what's going on in their personal lives," he said.
Kramer was a point producer in minor hockey but felt that he needed to brush up on the physical side of the game to stick in the lineup on joining the Grande Prairie Storm of the Alberta league. He thought for a time that he might go the U.S. college route, but then was won over by the WHL. Several teams contacted him - including the Giants - but it was Spokane that eventually added him to their protected list.
"I'm very glad I came here," he said.
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