Boston, MA – Back in 2006, When Andrew Ference was traded to the Boston Bruins from the Calgary Flames, he was “disappointed,” he admitted on Wednesday.
The Edmonton native enjoyed playing in a city close to his hometown, where his family and friends could come to each game and where he was only a short drive away from everything he knew so well.
But now, four years later, the 31-year-old and his young family have happily sprouted roots in Boston, the city that has become their home. Thanks to a deal by Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli, the Ference’s will be staying for at least three more years.
Before the extension was confirmed, Ference was scheduled to enter the free agent market at the conclusion of this season.
“Mr. Chiarelli and the Jacobs family [are] giving me the opportunity to stay here in a city that I have grown to love and call home,” Ference said in a telephone conference call with the media after the extension was announced. “My family and I are absolutely thrilled.
“I look forward to being the absolute best representation of the Bruins both on and off the ice and to prove my worth to them.
"I am absolutely thrilled and very happy.”
Chiarelli said he is confident with the decision to sign the defenseman to a three-year extension because of the all the assets Ference has proven he brings to the team.
“He speaks his mind and I respect that greatly. He competes night in and night out,” Chiarelli said of the veteran. “He is a real cog in our defensive unit and I think he complements everybody real well.
“He is both a puck mover and a puck retriever and he has an element of a defensive defenseman to him. He is an all-around defenseman and we are happy to have him signed for the next three years.”
In his four seasons with the Bruins, Ference has logged 182 games and registered 3-39-42 totals.
His presence in the lineup has a stabilizing effect on the team, evident from their success since his return to the ice after a groin injury took him out of the mix for a combined 22 games this season.
As his Bruins were in the midst of one their worst slumps in franchise history, Ference returned to the ice on Feb. 7 and snapped the 10-game winless streak that night. In the 3-0 victory over Montreal, he saw over 15 minutes of ice time and ended the night with a +1 rating.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien agreed that the extension of Ference’s contract with Boston will mean good things in the B’s future.
“He’s been a pretty reliable defenseman when he’s played for us and it’s good for him, he’s come to an agreement and certainly some stability and experience back there,” Julien said. “He’s also a good leader and again, barring injuries, he’s been nothing but dependable.”
The question of Ference’s injuries and how they affected the management’s decision has been at the forefront of the discussion over the past few days. Ference has played a career-low of 47 games this season, missing games while he battled groin injuries that will later require surgery.
Both Chiarelli and Ference assured the media that his injuries are repairable and will not affect his ability to play in the long-term.
“That goes into the decision making as far as whether to keep me around,” Ference explained. “Like I said, I am fortunate enough that the doctors are confident enough to tell the team that these are all injuries and stuff that I have been able to and will be able to be 100% afterwards.”
Chiarelli was able to shed some light on the issue as well.
“I was given an assurance with respect to his groin and core that everything is repairable and everything will be fine,” he said. “We’re prepared to take the injuries based on the way he plays. I’m not going to lie to you, and Andy, he’ll say the same thing, he plays hard and that’s what happens when you play hard.
“We looked at that and we factored that in the equation, but we felt there were a lot of positives and that’s why we decided to extend him.”
Now that the ink has dried and his family can breathe a little easier knowing their home has gained some more permanence, Ference took a minute to reflect on the community of Boston and how he’s found his niche in the Hub.
“I literally had no desire to go anywhere else,” Ference said of the time when he was considering the free agent market. “You go through the list of things that are important, obviously to come to work everyday you have a great coaching staff, you have great teammates and a fun atmosphere that you’re excited to go to work everyday. We have a successful franchise.
“We have more friends here than we do from our hometowns. I feel lucky because just to play in the NHL is a privilege, but to get the opportunity to play somewhere where you really enjoy your life, it’s a bonus.
“It’s just a perfect fit.”