EDMONTON, Alberta — When Andrew Ference left the Bruins after last season, after one Stanley Cup and one other run to the Final, they were in the market for an alternate captain, and named David Krejci to share the vacated “A” with Chris Kelly.
But if you ask Ference, who faced his former team for the first time as a member of the Oilers Thursday night, the Bruins had a lot of options in that area. And that, he said, was why the Bruins have been so successful, leadership isn’t confined to a few players.
“That’s why it was a special team.,” he said. “It was a group of guys that took a lot of pride in wearing that jersey and knew that it came with more than just going out and skating around for a couple hours.”
In Ference’s seven seasons in Boston, he watched his teammates move downtown, get involved with their neighborhoods and communities. That’s what he did, and what he believed was important to building a true team.
“It was just immersing yourself in what Boston is,” Ference said. “It was special for me. A lot of great memories.”
That helped him as he arrived in Edmonton and was named captain of a young Oilers team that has struggled this season, entering Thursday night with the fewest points in the Western Conference. He applied some of the lessons he learned in Boston, but it wasn’t that easy.
“You learn a lot from all of those guys, from Zdeno [Chara], from [Patrice] Bergeron, from Kelly, all the leaders on that team, and there’s a whole bunch of them,” Ference said. “You learn little pieces from every one of them. You can’t just carbon copy something from one team to the next because it’s different players, different atmosphere, but you can start with the same ideals and the same things that made it successful.”
When Ference was named captain, his former teammates and coaches were pleased, believing it was well-deserved .
“Andy was such a good individual and player for us,” coach Claude Julien said. “I know he’s captain here. I always felt he had the personality and demeanor to be a real good leader. He was on our team. Z really relied on him quite a bit.
“Everything he’s done, from how hard he played and what he put on the ice to what he did in the community, to also what he and his family did with new players coming in, their wives, he was always very good to help out. Those kind of things don’t get forgotten.’’
The Bruins switched up their lines in the third period of Tuesday’s game in Calgary, putting Matt Fraser with Brad Marchand and Bergeron, and dropping Reilly Smith to a line with Carl Soderberg and Ryan Spooner.
It paid dividends, with Smith scoring the winning goal.
“You just try not to think about it,” Fraser said. “You have two world-class players in Bergy and Marshy. I think with that practice [on Wednesday] it gives you a chance to get a little more comfortable so when you get up there you’re not flying everywhere and trying to do too much. That’s when you often times find yourself getting in trouble.”
Fraser, who is from Red Deer, played his first games in Calgary and Edmonton this week, less than a week being called up. Red Deer is halfway between the cities.
“Obviously, it’s exciting,” he said. “I’ve been in this rink a few times before in junior. I don’t know if it makes me more nervous or more excited to know that I have friends and family in the crowd. When it comes down to it, it’s just another day and it’s business as usual.”
Asked how big a rooting contingent he had, Fraser said, “Paid a little bit of money for some tickets today, that’s for sure. These kind of moments are pretty special in your career.”
Shawn Thornton’s hearing is set
Shawn Thornton’s in-person hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety is scheduled for Friday at 1 p.m. in New York. Thornton has missed three games, which will count toward his suspension, one that will be at least six games, and likely more. Thornton has never been subject to supplementary discipline by the NHL, but will be for his attack on Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik last Saturday. Orpik was removed from the ice on a stretcher and is on injured reserve because of a concussion, which will factor into the suspension . . . Dennis Seidenberg took a deflected puck to the right side of his jaw in the third period against Edmonton. Seidenberg returned to the bench, and appears to be fine, though his jaw was significantly swollen in the dressing room after the game . . . Tuesday’s game marked the 600th in the NHL for Gregory Campbell. His father, Colin Campbell, played 636 NHL games. That makes the Campbells the sixth father-son pair to each play at least 600 games, joining Gordie and Mark Howe, Bobby and Brett Hull, Dave and Adam Creighton, Pat and Mike Stapleton, and Greg and Ryan Malone . . . Chad Johnson started in goal for the Bruins in place of Tuukka Rask, who missed practice on Wednesday with the bug that has hit the team, and finished with a career-high 39 saves in the 4-2 win. “He was pretty down and out,” Julien said of Rask, who had taken Johnson’s scheduled start against the Flames because Johnson came down with the illness on Monday . . . There was no update on Daniel Paille, who went back to Boston Wednesday to be examined with an upper-body injury . . . Adam McQuaid skated again on Thursday. He’s unlikely to play Saturday night in Vancouver, Julien said, since he hasn’t yet practiced since aggravating his lower-body injury.