Oct 11, 2003
Kip Brennan is a player every NHL team would like to have. An Ontario native who grew up playing the game spent part of five seasons in the OHL refining his skills, before taking his game to the AHL. Over the last two seasons he has played 23 games in the NHL, dropping the gloves 9 times. Kip was good enough to spend some time answering questions from hockeyfights.com's Shawn LaRoche.
Kip would like to send his thoughts and deepest condolences to the Snyder family, as well as Dany Heatley and his family.
Shawn LaRoche: Kip, do you like the role of the enforcer? Also, how did you get started in that role? You played during a tough era in the O.H.L. So do you remember your first fight ever (in hockey) and how that went?
Kip: I love what I do. At the end of the day, business aside, we are grown men fortunate enough to play a game we love.
The second question was how I got started in the role. I was a fairly large kid growing up. I was a defenseman through out my career until I attended my first professional camp with the Kings and was switched to the wing. I was 13 years old and playing Junior “C” hockey with my brother, who is two years older. The league had men as old as 21-years old. It was my first game and I got into a fight with a 20 year old and handled myself pretty well. My mother was in the stands yelling at the other player to stop fighting me until she realized that I knocked out some of his teeth. My older brother was happy that I did because, had I not, he would have defended me and he wasn’t sure he could handle the other guy.
Shawn: Do you feel that there are minor league enforcers that are better fighters than NHL enforcers?
Kip: That’s a hard question to answer,
because of two reasons. The first being the fact that I have not had a chance
to fight too many NHL heavyweights, and secondly I think that the AHL heavyweights
all have something to prove to get to the next level and they are in general
more willing to tangle at any given time. In the NHL you have to be smart in
picking your battles.
Shawn: Name the 3 toughest fighters you fought in the AHL, and do you feel these 3 fighters could beat Brashear, Laraque or Worrell?
Kip: In the AHL Eric Godard, Richard Scott and Matt Carkner. To answer the second part of your question, it’s hard to say, given the right circumstances and situations I think any player can be beaten. That is why we have to not take anything for granted and lightly.
Shawn: Who's the most under-rated fighter in the AHL, and who's the most over-rated fighter in the AHL?
Kip: Hard to answer, I think from my perspective no one is under-rated or over-rated. I treat every one the same with respect. I think fans may be more into that kind of information than I am. I can say that I do look at the other team’s roster and recognize who their enforcer is so that I can prepare myself but that’s about it. I will make notes that for instance he’s predominantly a left-handed puncher etc. But I don’t rate them.
Shawn: Do you feel that the lockout/strike will cancel the entire 2004-2005 season?
Kip: I hope not but I’ll leave that in
the hands of the NHLPA, the NHL and the owners.
Shawn: If there was a lockout, would you consider signing with the WHA?
Kip: In the current stage of my development
as a professional player I think that it would really hurt my game to be sitting
out for any extended period of time. I would be caught in the proverbial “rock
and a hard place”. On one hand I need to further develop my game and on
the other I want to support the NHLPA in their actions. I think I would consult
with my agent and the NHLPA to see what my options are considering playing in
any other league. I hope it does not get to that point but I understand that
hockey is a business, and as such this is just a part of doing business.
Shawn: What NHL fighters do you desperately want on your fight card?
Kip: I think if the opportunity presented itself
I would like to establish myself by taking on all the big names; Brashear, Laraque,
Worrell etc. But to say that I’m desperately looking to fight them would
not be right. I am willing to fight with anyone, if it’s at the defence
of my teammates and it’s at a time in the game that will not hinder my
Shawn: What has been your hardest NHL fight, and what has been your easiest NHL fight?
Kip: Hard question, toughest I’d say was
with Todd Fedoruk, and I had no easy fights.
Shawn: Do you feel that the NHL will try to legislate enforcers out of the NHL within 5 years?
Kip: I hope not because in my opinion it is
part of the game of hockey. With the passion to which all the players play with
night in and night out and the physical nature of the game, I think that it
would be hard to eliminate that from the game. I do think that the role of the
enforcer has changed a lot. What I mean is you have to have more than one dimension
to your game in today’s NHL, AHL and even OHL etc. I think that the game
is moving towards more skills overall and the role of the enforcer is no exception.
That’s why I’m constantly working on my skating, stick handling
and shot in the off-season and during the regular season.
Shawn: If you play the majority of the year, this year for the Kings, how many fighting majors do you want to rack up?
Kip: As many as I need to protect my teammates and help the Kings. If it’s 1 than it’s 1, if I need to have 20, than 20 it is. I think going in with a figure in your head or a goal is setting you up for failure. If I reach my goal, but my team was scored on each time I was in the box is that worth it? The opposite is true, if I limit my fights and my teammates aren’t adequately protected, does that mean that I’m better off? I think that is the biggest misconception about enforcers in general. People think that we set out goals for 20 majors and that is considered successful. For me personally, if I’m even or positive in the plus/minus rating and my line mates are scoring goals, getting assists and the team is winning that is success for me.
Shawn: Have you ever fought Ryan Flinn?
Kip: Ryan and I have had a few tangles at training camp. He’s a big man and it’s nice to have someone else in the organization that is willing to tangle. When we played in the AHL together last year it was a lot of fun, as I knew he was ready to protect me and I was more than willing to protect him. We also had another teammate Joe Rullier, who was willing to tangle if need be.
Shawn: Do you know any information regarding Ken Belanger and the status of his career?
Kip: Ken Belanger was a free agent this past
summer was unsigned and he has now retired from hockey.
Shawn: Who do you think are the top 10 guys in the league? Who is the most intimidating enforcer in today's NHL?
Kip: Your fans seem to have it pretty much figured
out. I’d agree with most assessments.
Shawn: Who has the hardest punching power in the NHL?
Kip: Of the guys that I fought I think Eric
Godard and Todd Fedoruk.
Shawn: Is there any one player or any players that you absolutely can't stand and why?
Kip: I have been around hockey a long time from
childhood to now and I can honestly say that I have not disliked any player
off the ice. On the ice, I know that they have a job to do and I respect it
but off the ice, I would say none at all.
Shawn: What do you eat or drink or before a game?
Kip: I am a bit of a health nut; you have to
be in today’s professional hockey world. I try to eat a balanced meal
on game days, higher in carbohydrates (for energy) and I try to consume as much
water as I can. A typical pre-game meal for me would be pasta, a chicken breast,
a salad and tons of water.
Shawn: Who do you think is the most feared/respected enforcer in the league today?
Kip: In my opinion, I respect and fear them
all. What I mean by that is, if you don’t and take them lightly that’s
when injuries will happen or I’ll be caught off guard. Just like anything
else the minute you do not pay attention or respect something that’s when
the worst will happen. Fans may have their list of who’s who and I would
agree with most assessments.
Shawn: What was your most memorable game? Was it your first?
Kip: There are so many of them. My first professional
game was memorable in Lowell, MA as a Lock Monster, my first professional goal
and of course my first NHL game in Long Island is right up there.
Shawn: Were you as shocked as everyone else on how you beat Chris McAllister so decisively?
Kip: McAllister is a big man and as I mentioned
earlier about respecting all players I was not surprised because I’m confident
in my abilities but what would surprise me is if in the future I don’t
continue to respect him and all the other players.
Shawn: In your opinion, was that game against Philadelphia, where you fought both Todd Fedoruk and Chris McAllister your best night in the NHL?
Kip: It was definitely memorable. Both fights
were tough fights and so far rank right up there.
Shawn: As an enforcer, if the NHL abolished the Instigator rule do you feel it would help the game and make it easier for you (and other enforcers) to do their job?
Kip: I think all the rules in the NHL are set
up for a reason, and that’s to protect the players. As I answered earlier,
there is a fair amount of respect that I have for all players with or without
the instigator rules. I know that the rule is there to protect all involved,
but if the rule was not there I don’t think I would play any differently.
Shawn: What NHL player did you look up to when you were younger?
Kip: I looked up to Mark Messier; he was a big
man who played really physical. I also really liked Steve Yzerman.
Shawn: Would you be willing to run another team’s finesse player in order to send a message? Or is that a violation of the heavyweight code?
Kip: I don’t think that I have ever purposely
tried to run or injure another team’s star. I think that would be a really
be a bad thing if that is what fans perceive an enforcer to be. Personally,
I know the hard work, dedication and sacrifices that we all had to make to get
to the NHL. For me to disrespect a player and “run” him would never
be my intention. I just look for the puck and if the other colour jersey has
the puck I will hit them, no harder or softer, if it’s a star or fourth
liner. As for it being a violation of the “heavyweight code”, I
think it’s a violation of respect to intentionally injure another player.
Shawn: On that note, is there still a heavyweight code that exists today?
Kip: There’s an understanding that a heavyweight
is not going to fight a skilled non-fighting player. In addition to that we
all understand that we all take great risks in fighting and if the other player
during the fights asks to stop the other stops immediately.
Shawn: Have you ever been nervous about fighting somebody that has ended another heavyweight’s career?
Kip: I have never been nervous, but I have been
careful and respectful.
Shawn: Kip, due to the pacification of the NHL, do you feel it necessary to concentrate more and more on skating, and puck handling, etc to maintain at this level? Or do you think that your primary job of protecting your teammates will continue to earn you a spot on today’s NHL roster?
Kip: Great question, personally I think that
today’s enforcer must bring more to the table than his knuckles. Skating,
stick handling, passing and shooting are all part of the game. If you look at
today’s enforcers, Laraque is a force with the puck, Brashear scores regularly
and Chris Simon a few years back was on a scoring streak. As previously stated
the game is so fast now that without being able to skate and keep up and play
a regular shift an enforcer will not be too useful for his team. That’s
why I work a lot in the off-season on my foot speed and puck handling skills.
Shawn: What kinds of things are said during an altercation with the other team’s policeman, before - during - or after the fight?
Kip: We agree to go and we agree when to stop.
There is usually an acknowledgment that it was a good fight. I think we’re
all gentlemen out there and respect the other’s job and responsibility.
Shawn: Kip, what does the meaning of the symbols tattooed on the inside of your right wrist mean?
Kip: Severe punishment – It reminds me that I always have to sacrifice and work hard and willing to fight through the “pains” of training to achieve my goals. In other words willing to take “severe punishment” to get there.
Shawn: During your fight last season against Todd Simpson what was said between the two of you after it was over? Also, I noticed you and Todd fighting again in a preseason in Phoenix. How do you feel about Todd as a fighter?
Kip: To answer your question Shawn, I don’t remember specifically what we said to each other but I’m sure it was not suitable for a daytime TV audience. Todd is a tough man and has earned my respect for the many years of service as an enforcer. I wish him well in Anaheim and I’m sure we will be renewing our battle this season with us playing them so many times this year and the natural rivalry between the two clubs.
Special thanks to John Nguyen and Nick James.
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