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, Sportsnet, 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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#51 Fresh Mess
September 29 2013, 10:50AM
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clyde wrote:

Good choice for captain. Macintyre must be hurt fairly bad considering the Oilers waiver pick up. Or, do they want more toughness on the farm?

Maybe Smac retires due to injury and collects nice insurance payout.

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#52 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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#53 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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#54 Smokey
September 29 2013, 11:04AM
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YFC Prez wrote:

Leafs have been waiving some quality players lately.

Id take Liles way before Grebs...anyday

I concur.

Best thing that happened to Grebs was the injury, cause he's still on the team.

Larson I know is smaller, and redundant in terms of skill set. He guy did everything he could of to try to make this team. If this team was not so short on functional toughness and needed to carry 3 goons which eats up other roster spots, he should of had a spot in my estimation. Next time he will learn that he should drop the mitts rather then getting points and moving the puck effectively.

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#55 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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#56 StHenriOilBomb
September 29 2013, 04:12PM
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All day and no word from Wayne Manor...

ARE YOU SCARED?

or just soothing yourself with cheap rum and 9 month old EGG NOG?

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#57 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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#58 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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#59 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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#61 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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#62 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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#63 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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#64 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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#65 Fresh Mess
September 29 2013, 10:11AM
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Larsen also waived

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#66 Alex Mathis
September 29 2013, 10:18AM
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@Fresh Mess

Intruiging moves which I can't understand. IMO, Larrsen had a good camp. I'm sure he will be replaced by Grebs...stange. Still waiting for a Centerman. MacT is acting in a desperate mood!

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#67 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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#68 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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#69 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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#70 6 ring circus
September 29 2013, 10:59AM
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Maybe Katz took the picture considering it was taken in his house,or did the powers that be need his permission with there choice as captain ?At this pointe in time it's the right choice for the team.

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#71 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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#72 Dennis
September 29 2013, 11:29AM
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Harry wrote:

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

According to the Oilers twitter feed Eakins is actually going to rotate the A's for the season because he doesn't want to assign them permanently to a couple players.

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#73 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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#74 kawi460
September 29 2013, 12:51PM
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@Johe

IMO I though laresn out played Greb.

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#75 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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#76 kawi460
September 29 2013, 01:03PM
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@Johe

I hope so. His ability to skate with the puck impressed me.

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#77 Tokenhill
September 29 2013, 02:29PM
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Why don't we pick up cory emmerton?

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#78 Johe
September 29 2013, 02:55PM
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@Peter

Yeah I saw that. Hoping he has a speedy recovery, and if I had to bet, I say he's back beginning of November with the full face shield.

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#79 David S
September 29 2013, 02:59PM
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WONGER wrote:

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!!!!!!!!!!!

http://youtu.be/sJXZLnMPiQ4

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#80 David S
September 29 2013, 03:16PM
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Peter wrote:

I'm hoping he's back sooner than the projected two months for sure. Ryan Smyth only missed two weeks when he broke his jaw, but everyone heals differently and they may have been different types of breaks. Hopefully Sam will be back closer to the beginning of November, rather than the end of it.

He's workin' on it:

https://twitter.com/89SGagner/status/384407178146512896/photo/1

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#81 Peter
September 29 2013, 03:22PM
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@David S

Yep, and looking much better than a few days ago. Tough kid!

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#82 Butters
September 29 2013, 03:55PM
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A former Flame is captain of the Oilers?!? The times they-are-a-changin'....

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#83 HOFFFF
September 29 2013, 03:57PM
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http://wpmedia.blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2012/12/rsz_smytty.jpg

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#84 D'oh-ilers
September 29 2013, 04:51PM
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Looks like Wanye's source is his cousin Eklund von Gretz.

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#85 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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#86 Velo
September 29 2013, 08:56AM
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This is the best choice. The young guys are here for a long time. If Ference can help mold them off the ice, and they continue to develop on the ice, we will be in for a good ride - both in our community and in Rexall Place.

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#87 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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#88 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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#89 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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#90 clyde
September 29 2013, 10:43AM
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Good choice for captain. Macintyre must be hurt fairly bad considering the Oilers waiver pick up. Or, do they want more toughness on the farm?

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#91 Fresh Mess
September 29 2013, 10:48AM
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Leafs waive Liles.

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#92 Smokey
September 29 2013, 11:12AM
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Harry wrote:

Love the Gazdic pickup. Dont know much about the guy but hes 6'4" 240 and tough as nails. Exactly what we need.

Now all we need is a decent 3-4 C that doesnt have a brutal contract and all of a sudden were looking allright.

Some sites say 6'3'' 210. What's with these discrepancies. In a couple of fights I just watched on utube he doesn't look to huge.

I guess the signing sends a message to Eager to engage and not float around or his job will be taken by Gadzic. So does this mean Stevie Mac is out for a while? I was looking forward to him fighting George Paros this season and intermission interviews.

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#93 Dan 1919
September 29 2013, 11:16AM
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The impatient side of me wanted Hall to get the C, but this is a good move.

It now gives the needed couple years for one of the young guns including RNH (even, but unlikely Yak/Schultz) to step up and grab the Captaincy as the rightful guy. Instead of right now, Hall seems to be the easy pick, but what if RNH, Shultz or Ebs emerges as the CLEAR leader in a season or two.

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#94 Wax Man 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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#95 kawi460
September 29 2013, 12:49PM
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Ference knows how to win and has played in some big games the past few seasons. I think it would have been a lot of pressure for Hall if he was named the Captain and moving to center at the same time.

As for Gazdic. He seems like he is willing to go with all the AHL heavy weights and put up a lot more points then MacIntyre did down there. Should be interesting to see what happens to mac. My guess is OKC once his knee recovers.

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#96 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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#97 Peter
September 29 2013, 03:01PM
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@Johe

I'm hoping he's back sooner than the projected two months for sure. Ryan Smyth only missed two weeks when he broke his jaw, but everyone heals differently and they may have been different types of breaks. Hopefully Sam will be back closer to the beginning of November, rather than the end of it.

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#98 The Soup Fascist
September 29 2013, 05:28PM
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D'oh-ilers wrote:

Looks like Wanye's source is his cousin Eklund von Gretz.

Not sure if they are related. Wanye is correct occasionally.

Plus Wanye did not list every player on the Oilers and then say, "called it" when the Captain was announced. Fifth cousins, four times removed at best.

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#99 Dog Train
September 29 2013, 05:34PM
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A solid choice. Leaders will lead regardless of being a captain. All of the off-ice and on-ice responsibilities of a captain are best left for a wily vet like Ference. Guys like Hall and Ebs can focus on playing hockey.

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#100 106 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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