Edmonton Oilers defenseman Andrew Ference said he thinks his career may be over, he told the Edmonton Sun on Wednesday.
Ference had right hip surgery March 31 to repair what he said were microfractures.
"What is the terminology? I have a career-ending injury," Ference said. "That's the way I'm looking at it.
"I got 16 years. I don't feel I missed out. The people close to me walk on eggshells until I tell them it's OK. I told my wife it's like graduating from high school. You go to high school, have a blast, have all these great parties, but by the time you get to the end of high school, you say, 'All right, I'm ready for the next step.' You have fond memories. If I hadn't won a Stanley Cup (with the Boston Bruins in 2011), that would be tough to swallow now."
Ference, 37, has one year left on a four-year, $13 million contract (average annual value of $3.25 million). He's been biking and swimming but hasn't skated or run since his surgery.
"I'm trying to introduce more weight-bearing with the gym to work on my (range of) motion but I'm not even jogging ... that obviously comes before skating," he said.
Ference told the Sun he thinks his hip issue began about six years ago when he was playing for the Bruins.
"There was a playoff series and I snapped my adductor muscle in my groin and wound up having sports hernia surgery," Ference said. "There was a tear in my abdominal wall ... I'm pin-pointing it (the problem with his hip) because from that year on, the hip would always flare up."
Ference has 43 goals and 225 points in 907 regular-season NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Calgary Flames, Bruins and Oilers. He was named Edmonton captain in 2013 after signing with the Oilers as a free agent but had the role taken from him last season and was named one of four alternates with forwards Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Once the Oilers, who finished seventh in the Pacific Division (31-43-8) last season, began playing younger players, Ference realized the writing was on the wall.
"I wasn't playing and I came into camp healthy. The messaging was fairly clear," Ference said. "We rolled into Boston (mid-December) and I didn't get to play there. If I was going to play anywhere ... that was a tough one to swallow."
Ference endorsed center Connor McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, to become the next captain of the Oilers.
"Absolutely," Ference said. "No doubt about it.
"He's so mature and who he is, is who he is. He's not faking it. He's a super hard worker, ultra-competitive. It's real. He's not bluffing. I don't care how old a guy is, if you have those qualities, you're ready, 100 percent.
"It'll be a real fresh start with the culture of that room, too. That'll help him immensely. It's his culture."