Andrew Ference says good bye to Boston.


Feb 10, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference (21) during the game against the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center. Bruins beat the Sabres 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Ference played on the Boston Bruins for the last seven seasons. In that time, the blueliner made some incredible in-roads with the Boston community. This Canadian native became with word and deed as much of as a Bostonian as the native born there. You could see him riding his bike with his daughters, working out with people at the Harvard auditorium, or making the rounds to hospitals and National Guard outfits.

Ference was one of those players that brought more than his game every night for the Bruins. He brought leadership to the team. (He was rewarded with an alternate captain ‘A’ for it.) This was a player who worked not just on improving his team’s skill set, but also their morale. During the 2011 Cup run, he purchased a classic Bruins jacket off of eBay and made it the ‘star of the game award’ for the team. The day the Bruins hoisted the Stanley Cup banner in the rafters, Ference gave that jacket to retiring player Marc Recchi. That was my ‘Ference epiphany’ moment. I had realized what an amazing player the organization had on their hands.

During that season, Ference also had kept in touch with members of the US Army Rangers. Those soldiers and Ference had a mutual admiration society amongst themselves, and Ference began wearing the Ranger tab black shirt as a sign of respect. He was wearing it the night they won the Stanley Cup. Ference was invited to visit the Rangers training center at Fort Benning.

The Army Ranger jacket was Ference’s  ‘star of the game’ award for 2013.  The jacket was coveted by the Bruins, and every player that earned it wore it proudly at the post-game press conferences. That tradition ended in game six of the Stanley Cup Final when the Chicago Blackhawks won the cup in Boston. It was also (hopefully not)the last game Andrew Ference played as a member of the Boston Bruins. He taped up his sticks, zipped up his bag and left the TD Garden. But Ference had one last stop in Boston.

Andrew Ference stopped by the home of former Norwood hockey player Matt Brown to give that Ranger jacket a proper home. Brown was paralyzed playing hockey back in 2010, and was one of the many people whose lives intersected with the Bruins blueliner.  Following his visit, Ference posted on Twitter that he “couldn’t think of a more worthy final recipient” than Brown.

This is the class act that is Andrew Ference. He was the Canadian player singing the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ before hockey games. In my mind, Ference seems more American than a lot of people who were born here. As a farewell tribute, members of the November project serenaded Ference with a rendition of ‘O Canada’ in his final run day. This is the effect he has on people.

Andrew Ference got a four year contract with the Edmonton Oilers. Ference will bring his experience and his character to a very young team. Ference will serve as a leader there and I’m sure he’ll come up with all sorts of symbols to motivate the Edmonton team as they continue the rebuilding process. Happy trails and Godspeed @Ferknuckle ! You’ll always be welcome home.

Jun 19, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) and defenseman Andrew Ference (21) kick the puck away from the net during the second period in game four of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports