Three seasons and 147 games into his four-year, $13-million deal with the Edmonton Oilers, former captain Andrew Ference has said his career is over due to a hip injury that he believes dates back to his days with the Boston Bruins.
Ference, 37, told the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson that he’s dealing with a “career-ending” hip injury. In a remarkably detailed recounting of his injuries, Ference told Matheson that he suffered a snapped abductor muscle and tear in his abdominal wall years back which led to hip problems. Doctors then told Ference they believed he suffered a torn hip labrum.
“Over the years, the tear gets bigger, the bone starts rubbing, the cartilage starts to go,” Ference told Matheson. “They went in and took out all the bad cartilage, fixed the labrum tear, then they had to shave the bone because it was impinging. To promote new cartilage growth, they take a drill and drill into the hip socket. The bone bleeds and forms a pseudo-cartilage. That’s where (the recovery) turns into months instead of weeks.”
Ference added that he has since been told about micro-fractures in his hip, and the belief is that when he attends the Oilers’ training camp, he’ll be told that he has failed the medical exam. At that point, Edmonton will almost certainly place Ference on long-term injured reserve and he’ll remain there for the rest of the campaign. It’s not a shock because he can’t even jog due to the injury.
“That obviously comes before skating,” Ference told Matheson.
There was a good chance that regardless of Ference’s health, he wouldn’t have played much or at all this coming season. He skated in only six games all of 2015-16 and his ice time dwindled to the point he was a rarely used third-pairing blueliner. It was a stark contrast from the 21-plus minutes he averaged in his first season with the Oilers in 2013-14.
He was also relieved of the captaincy before the campaign began in October 2015. In his place, the Oilers named four alternate captains, and though Ference wore one of the ‘A’s, he wasn’t in the lineup often enough for it to matter.
Ference’s injury and status heading into the season means that his career will come to an end after 907 games in the NHL, which saw him spend time with Edmonton, Boston, the Calgary Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins. Drafted by Pittsburgh in the eighth round, 208th overall, Ference managed 43 goals and 225 points over the course of his career, as well as another eight goals and 38 points in 120 playoff games.
Ference’s best offensive season came in 2005-06 when he notched four goals and 31 points for the Flames, but the most significant year to him was the 2010-11 campaign in which he won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Bruins.
“I got 16 years,” Ference told Matheson. “I don’t feel I missed out. The people close to me walk on egg-shells until I tell them it’s OK. I told my wife it’s like graduating from high school…You have fond memories. If I hadn’t won a Stanley Cup, that would be tough to swallow now.”
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