Sunday, September 14, 2014

Penticton 2014: Camp Invitee Jason Fram Pursuing his NHL Dream

When Jason Fram declared to his Mom at age six that he wanted to play hockey, she replied, "I have no idea what that is."

Seems hard to believe but the Fram household was anything but your stereotypical hockey household where Hockey Night in Canada is on the TV, there are puck dents on the washing machine, and Dad both played and coached hockey.

In Fram's case, his Mom was a native of Singapore, his Dad grew up in England playing field hockey, rugby and cricket, and ice hockey? It just wasn't their thing.

"Obviously my parents didn't grow up with a lot of hockey," says Fram, a 6-foot-0, 195 pound right-hand shooting defenceman. "With me, it was more my friends. Growing up playing road hockey with them, they would go off to practice and they would tell me how much fun it was and that kind of got me into it."

What his Mom and Dad lacked in knowledge and understanding of the game, however, they made up for in their commitment to getting Jason everywhere he needed to go... and to start off with, everything he needed to wear.

"My neighbour played hockey so my parents asked his parents if they had any extra gear. So, for my first year of playing hockey and part of my second, I used my neighbour's old gear," recalls Fram. "It was kind of funny getting dressed as I didn't even know how to put on all the gear."

Learning the Game

As Jason got older, Mom got involved in team manager roles and eventually took on bigger responsibilities like allocating ice.

"They really stepped up to the plate with learning about hockey, taking me to practices and games, and really getting involved. They are a big part of where I am right now," says Fram.

Attending his first NHL rookie camp, Fram got in his first game on Saturday night against Edmonton. With his Mom, Dad and older brother in attendance, he proudly pulled on a Flames jersey with No. 85 on the back.

"It went pretty good," summed up Fram, who grew up in South Delta, just south of Vancouver. "And obviously it was pretty cool to be able to play in front of my family."

Paired with Keegan Kanzig, Fram finished with no points and was a plus-1 in the 4-3 loss. He took a regular turn on defence playing in all situations -- even-strength, power play and on the penalty kill.

"That's what I'm used to doing. It's nice that I got to play in every situation and show what I can do."

Meet Jason Fram, the Player

"Obviously I'm a bit of a smaller defenceman compared to Keegan," he says with a laugh. "I try and be involved at both ends of the ice and be trustworthy at both ends of the ice. I use my feet a lot, going back and forth, up and down the ice."

Fram admits he wouldn't call himself an overly physical defencemen but he says he's not afraid to get involved and it's all part of playing the position.

"Everybody has to have a physical role. You can't go out there and not be a part of it. I do what I can to get in a guy's way, throw hits when I can. I'm probably not taking too many guys out but I make sure I do my part."

A perusal of the website reveals that Fram has had only three fights in his three-year WHL career. That's not surprising. What is surprising or more so downright shocking is that one of them in January 2014 was against Kanzig. Uh-oh. Resembling a heavyweight versus welterweight match-up, the video of it -- unfortunately for Fram (wearing No. 2), is on YouTube and can be viewed here.

"It was at the end of the game and my D partner was actually going at it with (Flames draft pick) Austin Carroll. It turned into a big scrum and I was the unlucky guy that ended up with Kanzig and we just dropped the mitts and away we went."

Predictably, it didn't turn out very well for Fram but to his credit, he hung in there.

"It was brought up at development camp and he told me, 'I didn't mean to grab you'," says Fram. "He was obviously looking for someone else but that's the way it goes. We had a good laugh."

The Day of Broken Dreams

Fram has been eligible for the last two NHL drafts. Not being selected last year was not a surprise. In his own words, he "didn't play well enough to give himself a chance" with 2 goals and 13 assists in 60 games for Spokane.

But last year was different. Fram had a breakout season offensively with the Chiefs racking up some pretty gaudy numbers with 6 goals and 51 assists. His 57 points were 10th in scoring among WHL defencemen.

"It was a pretty big jump. I feel like I developed more as a player and I learned a lot from smaller defencemen like (Winnipeg Jets draft pick) Brendon Kichton, my captain for a couple years. I also learned a lot just from watching guys like Reid Gow. Watching good players like that really helps with your development."

When draft day arrived, he was hopeful. His agent had told him he had been talking to a few teams with Calgary and Vancouver among them. "Obviously, you hoped, and you wanted to see what happens. but I didn't really have an idea, it was a toss-up at the time."

On Saturday, round two passed and still nothing. Then round three passed. Then round four, round five, round six. Down to the final pick of the draft, No. 210, Los Angeles chose a defenceman out of major junior but it was Jacob Middleton from the Ottawa 67s. Damn. A total of 210 players drafted, 63 of them defencemen, but nobody took a chance on Fram.

"When you're hoping for it and you're listening to it and you're watching it, every single time a name gets called, you get your hopes up," says Fram, who followed the draft closely from home. "By the end of the day, if your name doesn't get called, it's a little bit disappointing, "

No kidding.

Fortunately for Fram, his agent didn't leave him twisting in the wind very long. Less than half-hour after the draft ended, he called with some good news.

Headed to Flames Development Camp

"He told me that I was going to the Flames development camp so obviously I was excited about that," says Fram. "He told me, 'obviously you didn't get drafted but this is just as good of an opportunity as those guys are going to be there and you're going to be right with them. This is your chance for you to prove that you belong there."

So that's what he did. Determined to stand out, he came to Calgary in early July as one of 18 players invited to the intensive six-day camp on a try-out. In the end, it was mission accomplished.

In speaking to the media on the final day of camp, Flames general manager Brad Treliving was asked if any of the players on a try-out had stood out. He singled out one name -- Jason Fram, confirming right then and there that he would be invited back to Calgary's rookie camp in September. And that takes us to where we are today.

Looking Up to Gio

Of course, there is no better example of how you don't need to be drafted to make it to the NHL than the guy wearing No. 5 for the Flames, captain Mark Giordano. And Fram is well familiar with his story.

"For a guy who was in the same spot as I was, he's obviously done quite well and has become very successful. He's shown everyone that you don't need to be drafted to make it to the big league," Fram says. "It's obviously stories like that where it gives you that little bit of motivation and it's a reminder that there's always a chance."

Meanwhile, Fram is focused on the next task, which is trying to earn an invite to the Flames main camp, which begins later this week.

"Obviously this is a pretty big opportunity for me. Not being drafted or anything. I need to come in, show what I can do and show there's a reason why a team like Calgary will want to keep me," Fram said. "And if not, show why other teams would want to keep me. I need to come out, play my best and show that I belong up here with the rest of these guys."

Fram hopes he'll get another chance to prove himself this week, either against Vancouver on Monday night and/or against the University of Calgary on Wednesday night.

And the way things are going, perhaps he'll be wearing Flames colours again next week at the team's main training camp. One more step to go.


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  1. He was ok, last Saturday. If he keeps playing hard he may get an opportunity in AHL. Before YoungStarts I thought our young D's were close to be NHL ready. But It looks like we still need a lot of development.

  2. Play hard, prove your place and then hurry and get your butt back to Spokane we need you!