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 Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#1 Serious Gord
September 29 2013, 08:14AM
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So Wanye was full of $hit.

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#3 a lg dubl dubl
September 29 2013, 08:31AM
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So with Wanye lying to the masses, do we get free oilernation gear to make up for his "mistake" ;)-

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#4 Quicksilver ballet
September 29 2013, 10:08AM
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Wow, that was a lot easier than first thought. Must be a testament to Andrew Ference with him making this decision easy for head coach Dallas Eakins. Commitment to a better level of fitness reinforced. Resistance is futile.

Congratulations to Andrew Ference, a step in the right direction for this organization and well deserved.

Go Oil!

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#5 Spydyr
September 29 2013, 10:35AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

With Smytty and Ference being at a similar point in their lives. Should be interesting to see if Andrews affliction to fitness rubs off on Ryan Smyth some. Perhaps even extends his career a couple yrs. Be cool to see Ryan Smyth still here when it's hockey that matters for the Oilers again.

Not a popular opinion amongst the masses i'm sure. I just wanted to conform to my usual character.... stick the knife in and twist it on some fellow posters here this morning.

If Smyth is still here after this contract,playing not coaching, the team has failed the rebuild.

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#6 a lg dubl dubl
September 29 2013, 08:17AM
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Im mixed about this, Ference is a great team mate, been to the finals 3 times, and in tip top shape. I was hoping either Hall or Gagner would have been chosen with Ference there to lean on for support.

Not a bad choice all in all.

WANYE YOU LIED TO US!!!!

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#7 Lowetide
September 29 2013, 08:22AM
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I thought Hall would get it, but this is an excellent choice.

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#8 The Oilers Shot Clock
September 29 2013, 08:22AM
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Steve Smith looks like hes just happy to be there

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#9 Harlie
September 29 2013, 09:10AM
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Wow, Eakins just irrigated all over Wanye's corn flakes this morning.

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#10 Spydyr
September 29 2013, 10:36AM
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Smokey wrote:

Eakins thinks Smytty is a first liner, and said he's in good shape.

NO.Eakins wanted veterans to help Hall in his transition to center.Smyth is on the first line riding Halls coattails.

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#11 Justino
September 29 2013, 08:17AM
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Woot Woot! Go Ference! I'm happy with this.

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#12 a lg dubl dubl
September 29 2013, 08:26AM
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@The Oilers Shot Clock

Was he taking the picture? I don't see him

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#13 YFC Prez
September 29 2013, 10:52AM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

Leafs waive Liles.

Leafs have been waiving some quality players lately.

Id take Liles way before Grebs...anyday

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#14 Yakman
September 29 2013, 12:17PM
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I went to high school with Ference. He's a great guy and will make a good captain.

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#15 Harry
September 29 2013, 10:49AM
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madjam wrote:

Odd choice considering most clubs are trending toward younger captains . New Gm , new coach first year , and now new captain just starting his first year as an Oiler . See a trend here ? Wonder how the young stars feel about being passed over ?

Passed over? Last time I checked Hal and Ebs are wearing A's and 3 of the 5 have long term 40+milion contracts.

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#16 Spydyr
September 29 2013, 09:15AM
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Smokey wrote:

I am concerned that in two years Andrew could face the Horcoff treatment because his skills decline. If history repeats itself fans will ride him outta town.

Hall's the face of this franchise. Ference is a good guy but not someone anyone looks to as the face of the Oilers's. Slag me if you must, but in two years don't be railing on Andrew cause he can't play. I remember two years ago we were looking at Whitney as a future captain replacement.

I'm pretty sure with game he brings the fans here will soon fall in love with Ference.As for his skills declining Ference is a fitness nut like his coach.I could see him playing well for more then two years.How long did Chelios play for ?

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#17 The Soup Fascist
September 29 2013, 10:13AM
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Smokey wrote:

And Horcoff was outta shape? Fitness does equate whether a player is effective. Drink some more koolaid. At 34 he was a 3 defencemen on a excellent team. I don't discount that. However in 2 years he is probably a number 6 deman at best. I guess I'm skeptical after blunder after blunder by this organization, I don't trust their ability in any aspect to make decisions. I also.want to see Andrew rode outta town. Horcoff was maligned for 3 years carrying that cross. Its going to be hard on a guy who will be on a decline no matter how good of shape he is in to carry that burden.

Ill admit I may be wrong, but if you want a bridge captain for a year the it should of been Smytty. Hall should be the captain period next year period.

So you don't want to give the C to Ference, a player on a decline? Fair enough, but you follow that up with a comment that you would give the C to Smytty, who - when the injuries sort themselves out - SHOULD be a part-time 4th liner this year.

That is like saying "maybe Britney Spears has had enough to drink, let's let Lindsay Lohan drive".

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#18 The Soup Fascist
September 29 2013, 11:03AM
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Wonger wrote:

Do your homework dum dum!z,! GAZDIC can play-go with ANYONE- and is 24!!!!

Sure he can. That is why that moron Nill waived him. Pfffft. What does that guy know?

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#19 Wäx Män Riley
September 29 2013, 12:23PM
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madjam wrote:

Odd choice considering most clubs are trending toward younger captains . New Gm , new coach first year , and now new captain just starting his first year as an Oiler . See a trend here ? Wonder how the young stars feel about being passed over ?

I'm sure the young stars don't care. There is probably a healthy respect for Ference, and why would a 21 year old that is already saddled with having to save this franchise and playing out of his natural position due to management oversight want any more responsibility?

The locker room is not like a soap opera or Big Brother. Nobody is sulking in the corner stewing over this.

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#20 The Soup Fascist
September 29 2013, 10:56AM
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Smokey wrote:

Soup Facist, my argument is I think Hall was the obvious choice, and I rather see Smytty as a bridge captain then Ference (a good guy) get maligned when and if his skills diminish.

Ference is be an honorable choice.

I realize that but my concern is Smytty's skills are already diminished and save the unfortunate injury situation, Smyth would be on the 3rd or 4th line. I think once RNH and Gagner return, that is where Smytty will be.

I am a Smytty fan but I don't think this is the time and place for him to be a Captain. Respectfully, agree to disagree.

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#21 ubermiguel
September 29 2013, 11:02AM
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Love Smyth but he will not be playing 82 games this year based on last year's performance. Gagner's injury was obviously a factor; he needs to focus on his health and recovery.

Ferrance is a leader on and off the ice. He's great with media. It takes the pressure off Hall in that regard. Great choice.

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#22 kawi460
September 29 2013, 12:51PM
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@Johe

IMO I though laresn out played Greb.

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#23 Serious Gord
September 29 2013, 08:56AM
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Spydyr wrote:

Gagner or Ference.Easy choice.Another good decision.The next captain will be Hall.Now if they could address the center issue that would be great.

Bizarre comment. If gagner would have been a good choice IYO then hall could not be the next captain. No way would they strip it from gagner two years from now to give it to him unless circumstances were very poor - or SG had been traded. And neither of those two events would be part of a decision to name gagner the captain with the intent of naming hall sometime later.

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#24 Fresh Mess
September 29 2013, 10:10AM
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Oilers claim Luke Gadzic from the Dallas Stars as per TSN. Hamilton waived.

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#25 Fresh Mess
September 29 2013, 11:00AM
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YFC Prez wrote:

Leafs have been waiving some quality players lately.

Id take Liles way before Grebs...anyday

The FreakinGrebeshkov signing was perplexing at the time and just gets worse.

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#26 Crooked
September 29 2013, 04:51PM
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Looks like Wanye's source is his cousin Eklund von Gretz.

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#27 Bparsonsproject
September 29 2013, 08:27AM
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Serious Gord wrote:

So Wanye was full of $hit.

I think Gagner getting a stick to the face may have impacted his chances. Wayne is going to have to chew on it for awhile... wait... fast or eat smoothies to support Gagner in recovery.

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#28 Spydyr
September 29 2013, 08:43AM
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Gagner or Ference.Easy choice.Another good decision.The next captain will be Hall.Now if they could address the center issue that would be great.

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#29 Zack
September 29 2013, 09:08AM
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Andrew Ference the first guy to chuck the knucks with Sid the kid.

On a serious note, I'm happy Ference has become captain this will bridge the gap nicely between now and when one of the young stars takes the reigns. Seeing another D wearing the C on his chest and #21 on his back makes sense.

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#30 michael
September 29 2013, 09:21AM
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Good pick. The one I would have made. A Ft Saskatchewan fellow to add. Always nice to see the local guys come home and do good. He really has made a huge effort to win the affectios of the team and locals. He has reached out to the community with that morning exercise thing he does. He has shown willingness to step up. Overall a fine choice who will continue to bring integrity and honor to the Oiler jersey.

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#31 WONGER
September 29 2013, 10:22AM
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OIL claim GAZDIC off of waivers!!! You are gonna love this sweetheart!!!2nd toughest guy in AHL behind MAC- can skate, score once in a while- 24 years old - WOOOOO!!!! Wonger called it yesterday- also wants to see Jay ROSEHILL in a Oiler uni- Flyers may put him on waivers today!!! Great job MAC T!!!WOO!!!!!!!!!!!

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#32 Smokey
September 29 2013, 10:22AM
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Fresh Mess wrote:

Larsen also waived

Larson shoulda been a 6/7. Regardless of Grebeshkov's injury status, he did not make this over Larson, Fedun, or Nurse. Heck Brad Hunt was better. Feel sorry for Larson. The way he skates the puck out of the zone and moves it, I liked him as 2nd PP option and replacement in Shultz Jr in case of an injury.

Maybe they should waive Schultz Sr?

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#33 Johe
September 29 2013, 12:59PM
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@kawi460

I don't disagree. Hopefully Larsen clears waivers. He has potential to be a solid NHLer- his skating ability is elite.

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#34 EA Stats
September 29 2013, 02:51PM
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Tokenhill wrote:

Why don't we pick up cory emmerton?

Yes please. He is rated pretty good in nhl 14. And has good potential.

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#35 Chewy
September 29 2013, 08:19AM
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Ference must be standing in a hole in that picture.....in all seriousness, this is a really good decision.....don't know much about him but by all accounts, he has shown he is a leader focused on one thing......giving his best.....

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#36 Serious Gord
September 29 2013, 08:26AM
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Nothing Bold about it that's for sure.

Shows that the mgmt is not ready to make hall THE franchise player -yet. Naming Ference buys them a couple of years...

If the team struggles this year being captain could be a miserable task - let the no future veteran take the punishment.

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#37 dawgtoy
September 29 2013, 08:29AM
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I actually gave serious Gord props for his comment. WTF, that likely won't happen again. Good choice. Hall isn't ready yet, but he will be the 15th captain of the Edmonton Oilers.

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#38 Crackenbury
September 29 2013, 08:36AM
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Good choice. A captain with proven leadership ability and lots of playoff experience. The decision wasn't difficult.

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#39 Mandy
September 29 2013, 09:56AM
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I like the choice of Ference as Captain. It will be Hall in time but I think he has the right guy to learn from. And I also expect Eakins will make the entire leadership group as a collective and be visible on the ice, in the room and in the community. Andy is an outsider but really not so much. He's an Edmonton boy. So he knows the city and the fan base. He quickly integrated himself into the community which created a genuine vibe about him wanting to be here and wanting to compete and involve the fans. I sense he understands how to navigate the waters of the fishbowl.

Another thing I noticed in the photo was the body language of Eakins. He has his arm around Ference and almost looks like a proud Papa. We don't know if he'd react any differently if it was Hall there or not. But I think it shows a clear example of Eakins putting his stamp on the team and MacT let him. There's a lot of old boys in there. But the start of creating a fresh identity are showing. The old pictures are gone. A newly acquired player named Captain but as Willis said, he has a winning track record and he's shown he's a leader and on winning teams too. Plus yes, the C always looks good on a sweater with a 21 on it. Andy please do channel your inner Gator. I miss that.

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#40 Spydyr
September 29 2013, 10:22AM
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Smokey wrote:

And Horcoff was outta shape? Fitness does equate whether a player is effective. Drink some more koolaid. At 34 he was a 3 defencemen on a excellent team. I don't discount that. However in 2 years he is probably a number 6 deman at best. I guess I'm skeptical after blunder after blunder by this organization, I don't trust their ability in any aspect to make decisions. I also.want to see Andrew rode outta town. Horcoff was maligned for 3 years carrying that cross. Its going to be hard on a guy who will be on a decline no matter how good of shape he is in to carry that burden.

Ill admit I may be wrong, but if you want a bridge captain for a year the it should of been Smytty. Hall should be the captain period next year period.

So no to Ference because he might decline but yes to Smyth who has already declined.OK then.

For you to suggest I'm a kool-aid fan,well either you don't read the comment section often or your reading comprehension is poor.

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#41 Johe
September 29 2013, 12:43PM
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YFC Prez wrote:

Leafs have been waiving some quality players lately.

Id take Liles way before Grebs...anyday

I would also take Liles over Grebs. But with the cap crunch this year, having Liles as your seventh defenseman (possibly sixth if you like him better than Schultz or Belov, which I don't) is beyond stupid. He makes 3.875. Grebs makes 1.5. The right choice is obvious. Well, actually, the right choice is probably neither, but I'm okay seeing what Grebs can do once he gets better acclimated to the NHL game again.

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#42 Peter
September 29 2013, 02:47PM
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Looks like Gagner is back in the gym according to his twitter. Good on him, he's looking much better than a week ago.

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#43 WhattaMike
September 29 2013, 08:35AM
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Congrats to Andrew Ference on being named captain of this Oilers' team. I believe that his being named captain is the very right choice for now, and say for two more yrs, while bridging the term gap in order for Taylor Hall (next IMO) to become an excellent future captain.

This team needs a very expereienced and successful older vet to lead into the playoffs and Ference's resume is top notch.

Now....on that note...

Hey JW, is MacT actually looking hard right now and/or for an available good centre who could play very decent 3rd to 4th line groupings?

I just saw Calgary easily get Colborne for only a 4th round pick as also see other deals being made but again....there is nothing happening here. This gets frustrating as I am one who wants to see the team keep getting bigger and better now while not just sitting and hoping for miracloes. Not sold on Arcobello or Acton although I am pulling for them to do well.

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#44 Smokey
September 29 2013, 09:11AM
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I am concerned that in two years Andrew could face the Horcoff treatment because his skills decline. If history repeats itself fans will ride him outta town.

Hall's the face of this franchise. Ference is a good guy but not someone anyone looks to as the face of the Oilers's. Slag me if you must, but in two years don't be railing on Andrew cause he can't play. I remember two years ago we were looking at Whitney as a future captain replacement.

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#45 steveb12344
September 29 2013, 09:35AM
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Smokey wrote:

I am concerned that in two years Andrew could face the Horcoff treatment because his skills decline. If history repeats itself fans will ride him outta town.

Hall's the face of this franchise. Ference is a good guy but not someone anyone looks to as the face of the Oilers's. Slag me if you must, but in two years don't be railing on Andrew cause he can't play. I remember two years ago we were looking at Whitney as a future captain replacement.

Andrew Ferrance is the fittest guy on the team, and from Eakins comments on him. One of the fittest in the whole league.

Guys like that don't decline as rapidly as the regular guys who stop being vigilant about it once they get their big contracts in their early 30's.

I wouldn't be surprised if he plays out this whole contract with little to no drop-off at all.

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#46 Wonger
September 29 2013, 10:24AM
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The Soup Fascist wrote:

Please tell me you have made a terrible mistake and it is - in actuality - Luke ADAM, that has been claimed!

Do your homework dum dum!z,! GAZDIC can play-go with ANYONE- and is 24!!!!

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#47 mlcsellil
September 29 2013, 11:36AM
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Good Call on naming Ference as Captain.

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#48 106 and 106
September 29 2013, 05:51PM
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You forgot to mention his ability to motivate a community. I've never heard of Edmontonians getting up at 6am to workout with Captain Horcoff or Ebs or Hall - Ferrence brings so much more than hockey sense and a stanley cup ring - he brings heart.

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#49 Chewy
September 29 2013, 08:27AM
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@The Oilers Shot Clock

He's sitting on the mantle behind Coach Eakins......

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#50 The Oilers Shot Clock
September 29 2013, 08:33AM
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I was in favor of Andrew as well. Hes a young looking guy for someone his age, and we know hes a fitness freak. Hopefully he ages slow. His contract kind of demands it.

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