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Andrew Ference signs with Edmonton Oilers


February 12, 2013; Boston, MA USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference (21) gets ready for a face off during the first period against the New York Rangers at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

For all of us who have gotten to know Andrew Ferencein his seven seasons as a member of the Bruins, we got to realize what a character we had on our hands. This was a player who came from the near bottom of the NHL draft (8th round, 208th overall in 1997) to become an excellent defenseman, a community leader, an alternate captain for his team, and a voice for environmental awareness and self-sustaining energy. (This is where the irony of the Bruins’ so-called ‘Captain Planet’ leaves the team and joins the Oilers sinks in.)

He is a player that will find ways to motivate his team, energize the fans, and occasionally really stick it to the other guy. This was a man who took an attack on a teammate as an attack on his family and responded with the appropriate (sometimes bordering on overkill) amount of force.

Ference was one of the former Bruins free agents to find employment on Friday. The veteran blueliner scored four goals and nine assists during the regular season last year. He averaged 19:29 of ice time per game. In the playoffs he added two assists to his total. Ference was usually part of the second defensive line. Last season he made some good defensive plays for the team, but the one that stands out for me was against the Buffalo Sabres. Enjoy Bruins fans, we won’t get to see it again for a while.

It’s a homecoming for Ference.  He’s an Edmonton native, and his contract will keep him in Canada for several years. He signed a four-year, $13.5 million contract. The Oilers didn’t just sign a good blueliner and a favorite son. They got themselves a leader. Someone who will make it a point to push, motivate, and cajole a very young Oilers team. Players like Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be able to learn from his experience in the NHL. If the Oilers make they playoffs, I’m sure Ferry will have some sort of ‘player of the game’ token to pass on to his new team. (May I recommend a RCMP [Mountie] jacket for the squad this time Ference?)

Ference became a leader for Boston after the Marathon bombings. He was one of the players that stood up first among the Bruins in trying to help. He was always involved in the community, and was a staple in the city. He was also an ‘adopted masshole’. It was always struck me that a Canadian national would sing the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ every game when many American players wouldn’t. That kind of character can not be replaced.  I only hope at the end of the Edmonton contract, the Bruins organization will reward his class and demeanor with either another signing or a one-day contract so he can retire as a Bruin.