EDMONTON- The Edmonton Oilers have announced that Andrew Ference will be the team’s captain for the 2013- 2014 season.
Head coach Dallas Eakins made the announcement public on Twitter Sunday morning.
Ference was made captain Saturday night, at a gathering with the players, coaches, management and their families.
“It was pretty special. I mean, to be surrounded by the former Oilers captain, coach, the owner and obviously all of our families, it was an extremely proud moment,” Ference said Sunday.
Eakins says Ference’s ability to bring the team together made him an easy choice for the captain’s position.
“He’s everything you look for. You start rattling off words like compete and honest and commitment, a guy that can communicate; everything you talk about a leader, that’s what this young man is,” he explained. “He’s the most important person in this organization. It’s not Craig (MacTavish) and it’s not me, but it’s your captain. And he’s the one that has to unite your organization, unite the players.”
Ference has never worn the C for an NHL team, but says he’s ready for the challenge and believes he can bring the team together.
“This is a team that without a doubt has talent, it has skill and it has a lot of pieces that other teams don’t and other teams wish they had. But the one thing that I think it’s struggled with the last few years is having a strong identity.
“And it’s very easy to talk about what you want to be and how you want to change… but actually doing it night in and night out… that’s hard, it takes a lot of work,” he explained. “So I think that’s goal number one here.”
The 34-year-old defenceman has become the team’s 14th captain in the history of the Edmonton Oilers.
Drafted in the eighth round of the 1997 Entry Draft, the five-foot-11, 189-pound defenceman has 37 goals, 156 assists and 645 penalty minutes in 760 career games.
Ference signed a four-year deal with the team in July, after spending the last seven seasons with the Boston Bruins.
Prior to Sunday’s announcement, many thought Taylor Hall was going to be named captain. After practice at Rexall Place Sunday morning, Hall spoke to the media and said he thinks Eakins made the right choice in Ference.
“I think it’s great. He has a lot of experience in winning and that’s important for our group, we don’t really have a lot of that, especially with the young guys here,” Hall said. “He’s come in, he’s really taken charge. Off ice and on ice he’s a great player and a good guy, so I think it’s the right move for us.”
“I think it’s great. Obviously he’s got some champion behind him, he’s a leader in that regards, a lot of that stuff is going to rub off in this locker room. And he’s a guy that’s going to unify everything together,” added Ryan Smyth.
The reaction was mixed on Twitter Sunday morning, following the announcement.
In addition to naming Ference captain, the Oilers announced that Ryan Hamilton and Philip Larsen were placed on waivers. The club then claimed forward Luke Gazdic off waivers from Dallas.
The Oilers open their season Tuesday against the Winnipeg Jets.