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Chiarelli has a fan in Ference

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers

EDMONTON, AB - Of all the current Oilers players, one of the best to ask about Peter Chiarelli’s past success is Andrew Ference.

The defenceman and general manager hoisted the 2011 Stanley Cup together in Boston. Ference knows the type of person and professional Chiarelli is and what he can bring to the Oilers as their hockey operations boss.

“Peter is awesome,” said Ference. “Peter is all business. He’s going to run this thing like a tight ship. He knows what he wants to do and he’ll do it no matter what. He’s got the team’s best intentions always as his priority number one.”

The two had a good relationship in Boston with Ference liking the way Chiarelli operates.

Peter Chiarelli lifts the 2011 Stanley Cup while Andrew Ference (21) cheers. Photo by Getty Images.

“He was great to work with in Boston,” said the defenceman. “He always knew exactly what he wanted of you and what your role was and so that was great for the guys. He was pretty hands off as far as in the dressing room and stuff like that, but when something needed to be done or said you knew he was going to do it.”

Ference played for the Bruins from the 2006-07 season to 2011-12. Chiarelli was hired by Boston in 2006 and stayed with the club until April of this year. Edmonton waited just nine days before announcing he would take his talents from Beantown to Oil Country.

Chiarelli was gifted the first-overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft after Edmonton won the lottery. His first order of business was to find a bench boss, which lead to the hiring of the experienced Todd McLellan. He made changes to the scouting staff shortly thereafter and hired McLellan’s assistants. Chiarelli and his group of hockey ops minds took to the draft next, where they selected the highly touted Connor McDavid.

Then the addition of Chiarelli became very noticeable in the way he attacked the draft floor in an attempt to better his new team. The Oilers president of hockey operations and general manager executed a handful of trades at the draft, including the acquisition of defencemen Griffin Reinhart and Eric Gryba. He also succeeded in adding their top goalie target, Cam Talbot, via trade.

The way he walked the draft floor and how he interacted with other general mangers and player agents was intriguing to watch. It showed Chiarelli has done this job before. No learning on the job for the Harvard grad. His experience in Boston has set him up nicely in Edmonton.

Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli sits at the team's draft table. Photo by Getty Images.

“I think he’s respected for a reason,” said Ference. “He put together a Stanley Cup team and obviously went to the Final twice. He made the playoffs after a long time of no playoffs in Boston. He really changed the culture of that team and that city again. He brought back that respect of hockey in a really hockey-mad city in Boston.

“I think that it’s not lost on anybody what he accomplished down there around the league. He’s an extremely smart business man whose number one priority is to have the best team no matter what. Sometimes that’s through very difficult trades or whatever it is. He’s done it. He’s got the track record of success to really back up some of his decisions.”

Chiarelli helped Boston to a 386-233-85 record during his tenure there. That time included a Presidents’ Trophy, two trips to the Stanley Cup Final and one championship. Ference and the Oilers are hoping Chiarelli can mirror and even surpass some of his past success here in his new home.

That, of course, is yet to be seen. One thing that’s for certain, however, is Chiarelli has a fan in Ference.

“He’s awesome,” the veteran repeated.

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