Oilers Captain Andrew Ference suffered a concussion on March 23, in a game against the Winnipeg Jets. He played just 2:27 before missing the remainder of that game. He has not played since, as it has been a long road to recovery. But he may be out of the worst part, speaking to the media about his health on Sunday.
“It’s coming along,” said Ference. “I’ve been lucky in my career, I think this is only my second, questionably third, concussion. They’re difficult. For about two weeks, you get that feeling like you’ve been on a fishing boat for eight hours and you come off and you just get a rocking (feeling). The balance and stuff like that is messed up. If you’ve never had one before it’s kind of hard to explain. It’s kind of a mix between coming off a boat and being hungover and it doesn’t go away. Luckily, over the last couple of days it’s been good. I was able to skate quite a bit, just to measure if it’d get worse from activity and it’s coming along just fine.”
Ference spoke about the protocol the NHL has for dealing with concussions, saying there has been progress since he came into the league during the 1990-2000 season, and even just over the last few years.
“There are two ways to look at it. It’s scary when you feel that way, but it’s also amazing the difference that four or five or six years makes with the way that they handle them as well,” he said. “Earlier in my career, there’s no way that a trainer would have held you back to say, ‘slow down, take your time and make sure we’re doing this the right way.’ Now, any symptoms whatsoever and they’re holding you out and making sure that you’re back to 100%. The progress is there and I think that’s the important thing. As far as prevention and the rules and trying to do it, it’s tough. When it does happen, getting the full recovery from doctors and trainers and making sure that the clubs are taking care of it, that message has obviously gotten through and they’re doing as good a job as they can with it. That’s progress.”
Ference, 36, has played in 901 NHL games over the course of his career for the Penguins, Flames, Bruins and Oilers. He played 70 games this season, scoring three goals and adding 11 assists and 39 penalty minutes.