Andrew Ference named captain of the Oilers


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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  • The Soup Fascist

    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!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Quicksilver ballet

    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.

  • The Soup Fascist

    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.

    • The Soup Fascist

      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.

  • Slapshot

    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 ?

      • Slapshot

        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.

    • Wax Man Riley

      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.

      • Zarny

        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.

      • kawi460

        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.

  • Slapshot

    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.

    • The Soup Fascist

      Ference, good choice at this point. Hall will get his chance. Hall, needs some maturing and his game will grow even more.Hope that he gets
      the “A”for this year. There more to this than
      on ice performance.

      PS;. Looks like Buckberger and Lowe just wondered in from cutting Katz’s lawn . Can someone name them a decent tailor.I guess when you pay $200 mill for the team , you can choose your gardners. Oh, didn’t see Curly in the picture.

  • ubermiguel

    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.

  • The Soup Fascist

    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.

    • Slapshot

      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.

  • Dan 1919

    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.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    based on the article, this entire construct of the “captaincy” basically reduces it to something similar to the british monarchy or santa claus.

    “it kind of doesnt do anything but on the other hand it kind of does. we privilege the illusion. we don’t have the balls to get rid of it because of some other nonsense called tradition and ‘culture’, yadda yadda… waffles.”

  • Sidovech

    Not sure how Dallas could make this choice at this point. With Andrew’s contract and fans high expectations of him to be a number one defence man this could turn into another Horcroff situation quickly. Oilers fan loves a good scapegoat

  • kawi460

    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.

    • The Soup Fascist

      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.

  • The Soup Fascist

    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.

  • 106 and 106

    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.

  • Zarny

    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

  • Clyde Frog

    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.


  • Clyde Frog

    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.

  • smiliegirl15

    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!