Somewhat fairly, Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference has been tagged as “injury-prone” since arriving in the Hub.
However, that hasn’t always been the case. And the Bruins are counting on Ference returning to his one-time durable ways after signing the 31-year-old to a three-year contract extension worth a total of $6.75 million Wednesday.
“He plays a hard game and he does have injuries as a result. But that’s part of the package. But he takes very good care of his body and he’s an important cog on our defense,” said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli during a conference call.
“I was given an assurance with regards to his groin and core area, and everything is repairable and everything will be fine,” Chiarelli noted later in the call. “We’re prepared to take the injuries based on the way he plays. … He plays hard and that’s what happens when you play hard.”
The year before the lockout, Ference skated in 72 games. Prior to joining Boston, he logged all 82 contests. And the season he came over from Calgary, he totaled 80 appearances. But it’s been a battle with the injury bug ever since, as Ference has played in just 59 and 47 regular season games the last two seasons – plus he had to bail out of the Carolina playoff series early because of injury last spring. This season, he is playing through a groin problem – the same thing he suffered from last, but on the other side – that will require offseason surgery again. He has missed 22 games.
“Obviously, I’ve been battling injuries for the last couple years,” said Ference, who noted he feels fortunate to play in Boston and have access to some of the best medical care in the country.
“So in one point, it’s been frustrating as far as some of them go. But on the other token, it is part of the game and I feel at least fortunate enough that I’ve had injuries that are completely repairable and things that I can come back and feel 100 percent from. Obviously, that goes into decision-making as to whether to keep me around, and like I said, I’m fortunate that the doctors are able or confident enough to tell that these are all injuries that I’ve been able to and will be able to come back from and be 100 percent afterward.”
When healthy, Ference has been a reliable member of the Bruins’ top four on the back end and he has been a fill-in on the power play. There have been stretches when he has been Boston’s best defender over the last couple seasons. Whether he can stay healthy enough to sustain the level of play every night for the next three years remains to be seen. But Chiarelli is banking on Ference’s solid skating, experience and versatility being part of Boston’s back end on a consistent basis.
“He can play in a multitude of different spots, which is why he’s attractive too. He can play in that top four, he can play in the bottom pair. His game lends itself to different roles, he’s versatile and that’s why he’s attractive also.”