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Chiefs’ promotion packs a punch

Fri., Jan. 20, 2012, 10:13 p.m.

There will come a time – and it can’t be far off – that every man, woman and child will see their own likenesses on bobblehead dolls.

As in athletic event promotions, they will be doled out as come-ons. First two siblings to shovel the driveway will receive their own bobbleheads!

Until then, we will have to make do with whatever springs from the imaginations of our backyard sports franchises, which in the case of the Spokane Chiefs is normally something with fun attached.

Hence tonight’s Darren Kramer Bobble Gloves Giveaway.

Yes, gloves. Of course gloves. What else?

The Chiefs will play the Portland Winterhawks and 2,000 fans and all full-season ticket holders will play with their new toys depicting their favorite tough guy ready for a go.

Or so it’s implied.

“One could make the stretch,” allowed director of public relations Jay Stewart, “that the gloves are bobbling with the intent to come off.”

Nah. That would be sheer embroidery.

Just wondering, though: If a fan comes to that conclusion, does the promotions staff get two for instigation?

Hockey has a sometimes comical, sometimes cavemanish, but always circle-the-wagons relationship with the old-fashioned fistfight, which all within the sport agree is “part of the game.” Why, then, there is a penalty for it that takes the combatants out of the game is curious, but it’s pointless to seek logic from a culture that reveres Don Cherry for his principled stands on the telly.

In any case, hockey management usually refrains from overt endorsements of fighting lest it color the family entertainment mission and the Chiefs are no exception – which doesn’t mean they can’t be droll about it.

Plus, they have an almost perfect model in Kramer, their 20-year-old captain from the metropolis of Peace River, Alberta.

It is one of the game’s ironies that its fighters and tough guys often as not are the most engaging and fun off the ice. Maybe it’s hard to take yourself or anything too seriously when your job description includes taking the occasional whipping on behalf of your undersized sniper.

Kramer was an enthusiastic party to the bobble glove caper and to have his reputation both toasted and jested this way – with one caveat:

“As long as everyone knows I respect my opponents and still play the game of hockey,” he said. “(Fighting’s) one of the key parts of the game, but it’s not the only part of my game.”

So would he have made any other suggestions for his statue?

“No,” he admitted. “If they hadn’t come up with the idea, I probably would have suggested the gloves bobble. It’s pretty cool that they were on the same page.”

There was a time – maybe only a few years ago – when it was said an athlete hadn’t “arrived” until he’d been made into a bobblehead. Then franchises started handing out the bobs with such regularity that often the players had barely been issued a uniform – or they’d already gone. And at some places, the concept has truly jumped the shark – the Chicago White Sox have given away bobbles of their groundskeeper and a beer vendor.

The New York Mets actually have a “bobblehead curse” that seems to foretell that the feted player will soon wind up on the disabled list or jail or just the discard pile. Most recently, Jason Bay wasn’t even in the lineup on his bobblehead day.

The Chiefs have avoided this peril by being judicious in their issuance of the bobs – over the years they’ve done the mascot, goalie Barry Brust, hometown sensation Tyler Johnson and assistant coach Jon Klemm – a half-and-half design that honored his two Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche. When they won the Memorial Cup, the Chiefs put out a cupbobble to poke fun at the trophy that came apart at the championship ceremony.

That sort of whimsy inspired the bobbling gloves, which the producing company told Stewart they’d never done – which means it must be a different outfit that sculpted the Yuniesky Betancourt doll for the Mariners a few years ago.

Oh, wait. That was a bobbled ball doll.

The law of the hockey dressing room will require that Kramer receive a good portion of static for this honor, and it’s already started – questions like, “Kramer, do the gloves bobble because of your soft hands and scoring touch or because you fight?”

Still, it seems like the Chiefs could have gone all out and imagined a Kramer likeness connecting a right to the jaw of an opponent whose head does bobble in the manner of the old Rock ’Em Sock ’Em Robots.

Yes, yes. Too obvious.

Instead, the gloves bobble. And the mind boggles.

John Blanchette can be reached at

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