Andrew Ference named captain of the Oilers

Jonathan Willis
September 29 2013 08:11AM

 

Dallas Eakins broke the news that Andrew Ference will be the new captain of the Edmonton Oilers when he tweeted the picture above on Sunday morning.

There had been indications that the Oilers might be leaning toward a veteran captain rather than one of the team's young stars, and while Ference is to some degree a surprising choice this is not entirely unexpected news.

Ference brings a wealth of experience to the role. He is 34 years old and has played nearly 1,000 games at the NHL level, split between Pittsburgh and Calgary and Boston. He spent the last two seasons as an alternate captain with a very good Bruins team. Over his career he's been on five reasonably deep playoff runs - with Mario Lemieux in 2000-01, with Jarome Iginla in 2003-04 and multiple times with the Bruins, earning a Stanley Cup ring in 2011.

He's a newcomer, but he's one that should be respected based on what he's done over his career.

Passed over were other obvious candidates. Taylor Hall is the team's best player in the here-and-now. Jordan Eberle was the Oilers' only full-time alternate last season. Sam Gagner's NHL resume doesn't put him in the same class as those two, but Craig MacTavish identified him as a character guy and a team leader over the summer and Gagner has a lot of experience for a player his age (it's worth wondering too whether Gagner's injury impacted his chances).

How much does it matter? Perhaps not a lot; the line of thinking that leaders lead regardless of position is one I have a lot of time for; I also tend to think that in the grand scheme of things naming the right or wrong guy captain doesn't have much impact on goal differential. 

Was it the right choice? Time will tell, but my inclination is to say 'yes.' The off-ice - and especially media - responsibilities that come with the captaincy are probably best given to a veteran in most cases. Choosing an outsider could well be a positive, as the Oilers continue to emphasize the break between the present and the failures of recent years. Picking a guy from a winning organization makes sense for many of the same reasons.

From this (imperfect) vantage point, Ference seems a logical choice.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#101 Zarny
September 29 2013, 10:52PM
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I like Ference as Captain. I don't think who the alpha dog among the young kids is settled. Ference will be a good bridge until the leader among the young kids emerges

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#102 A rye morning
September 30 2013, 05:42AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

No idea, honestly.

I'm not wild about Colborne's upside (in MacTavish's shoes, I wouldn't have dealt for him at that price either) but there's little doubt the Oilers' center depth chart needs help in a big way.

I would rather trade that fourth round pick for Mike Brown, far greater upside.

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#103 Clyde Frog
September 30 2013, 08:17AM
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Dear Mister Wanye,

I would like my hope and a prayer back! I expended both of these items at your article and now lack them.

I will email you my shipping details and am comfortable you will have this resolved to my satisfaction by the end of the week.

Sincerely, Me

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#104 Fauxrumors
September 30 2013, 10:04AM
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Ferrence as captain...wow really speaks to the lack of leadership this team has. Definitely worthy of an 'A'...but there is no one else on this team to take the C? Speaks to another season of underwhelming hockey.

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#105 smiliegirl15
September 30 2013, 11:18AM
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Interestingly, yesterday I was wearing my Oilers tee shirt with both the number 21 and a C on it. The name on the back however, is Smith. Bodes well for the Oilers!

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