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Ference returns to roots, signs deal with Oilers

by Dan Rosen

Andrew Ference needed a new home in the NHL. He found it in a familiar city.

Ference has signed a four-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers, his hometown team, it announced Friday. The contract reportedly is worth $13 million and carries a $3.25 million annual salary-cap charge.

Ference and his wife, Krista, are from the Edmonton area.

"Obviously, I've got the nostalgia, but I'm just excited about the situation they have now with the talent, a new coach, a new attitude," Ference told TSN. "It's going to be good."

Ference, 34, has been to the Stanley Cup Final three times in his career and won it with the Boston Bruins in 2011. He played the past six-plus seasons with the Bruins after arriving in a trade from the Calgary Flames on Feb. 10, 2007.

Ference said he had interest from several teams once he learned the Bruins were not going to re-sign him.

"Definitely Edmonton jumps off the page for us," Ference said. "My wife grew up there, I was born there, we have family there. It's one thing to have all that, but they have a situation with a ton of talent, a lot of young guys, a team that just needs a little nudge over that hump and it could be a pretty neat time. I've seen that before. I've been fortunate to play in cities that care and love hockey and I wanted to continue to do that."

Ference said he appreciated having time during the past few days to talk to teams before officially signing a contract after noon ET Friday. He said it gave him a chance to learn more about the Oilers from general manager Craig MacTavish and coach Dallas Eakins.

"That was what was really nice about that period, teams can really communicate with the players about where they are coming from, what their attitudes and visions are," Ference said. "I think it's a good preview for them [teams] with the players as well, to get a better feel of who you are. I thought it was great. It really gave me a good opportunity to talk to them and get a feel for them. It made me really excited about joining up with a group that isn't going to leave anything to chance and will leave it all on the table, work extremely hard to get that success."

Ference becomes the oldest member of a defense corps in Edmonton that includes Justin Schultz, Ladislav Smid, Nick Schultz, Jeff Petry and Corey Potter. The Oilers also acquired 23-year-old Philip Larsen in a trade from the Dallas Stars.

Ference has played 760 regular-season games in the NHL and has 198 points and a career plus-6 rating. He has played 120 Stanley Cup Playoff games with 38 points and a plus-11 rating.

He started his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who drafted Ference in the eighth round of the 1997 NHL Draft.

The Oilers also announced they signed veteran forward Boyd Gordon on a three-year contract, and goalie Jason Labarbera on a one-year contract.

Gordon spent the past two seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes, with 37 points (12 goals) and 18 penalty minutes in 123 games. The 29-year-old appeared in 48 games with the Coyotes in 2012-13, recording 14 points (four goals) and eight penalty minutes.

Gordon has played nine seasons in the NHL with the Washington Capitals and Phoenix Coyotes, accumulating 122 points (39 goals) and 100 penalty minutes in 486 games.

Labarbera, 33, spent the past four seasons with the Coyotes, appearing in 72 games, posting a 22-26-9 record with a 2.00 goals against average.

In 2012-13, he had a 4-6-2 record, including a 2.64 GAA and a .923 save percentage in 15 games. He has played 175 NHL games with the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Vancouver Canucks and Coyotes.

Edmonton also added center Will Acton, right wing Ryan Hamilton and left wing Jesse Joensuu each on a two-year contract.

Acton, 25, has played the past two seasons with the Toronto Marlies in the American Hockey League; Hamilton, 28, appeared in 12 games with the Maple Leafs over the past two seasons; and Joensuu, 25, played in seven games with the Islanders in 2012-13.

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