Nothing will top getting back on the ice after winning a seven-year battle with Leukemia and graft-versus-host disease, which Kyle Kramer accomplished in November. But getting back together with someone who stood by him through the fight is a close second.
The New Jersey Devils hosted Kramer and his family and friends on January 31, and helped reunite the Governor Livingston High School senior with former Devil and current Florida assistant coach John Madden before the Panthers took the ice.
The reunion had been a long time in the making. “I hadn’t seen him in a few years,” Kyle said. “It was definitely nice, catching up with him again.”
Kramer and Madden’s friendship began in April 2008 when the Devils center learned about Kramer’s condition from a friend, and went with teammate David Clarkson to visit the young Devils fan. Madden remembers that first meeting, saying, “We just went up to see him, see how he was doing and raise his spirits a little bit.”
“John’s been so great to our family,” Kyle’s father, John said. “Even when he won in Chicago, his day with the Cup was here in New Jersey, and he called us up.” Madden remembers the day well too, commenting, “[Kyle] didn’t realize that he was going to see the Cup.”
Madden learned about Kramer’s return to the ice over the phone from Devils Alumnus Bruce Driver. “Bruce called me and told me he went and watched his first game this year as a player, and he’s doing great…to see him healthy is something pretty cool to see. I’m really excited.”
Even after Madden left the Devils in 2009, the organization maintained a connection with the Kramer family. At Kyle’s debut in November, which Governor Livingston won 10-2 over Morris Hills, the Devils donated a suite for a silent auction to benefit the Kramer family.
Michael Driscoll, of Scotch Plains, NJ, won the suite and attended the January 10 Devils-Islanders game with 16 friends and relatives. “If I can give back, and I can bring my friends and family together to a game…it’s a no brainer.”