Ference

BOSTON – One of the things general manager Peter Chiarelli will be paying Andrew Ference $2.25 million per season over the next three campaigns is veteran leadership. And some of Ference’s fellow blueliners can attest to what the 31-year-old brings to the locker room and on the ice in terms of guidance.

“He’s someone that goes out and competes and he doesn’t necessarily have to say a whole lot when he’s on the ice,” said defenseman Matt Hunwick after the Bruins’ morning skate at TD Garden today. “He’s showing other guys what needs to be done. It’s always good to have veterans in place.”

Captain Zdeno Chara always likes to say that his job is made easier by the presence of other veterans that can speak up when it’s necessary. Ference is among those players that shares the burden with Chara.

“He’s one of the leadership group we have,” said Chara. “To have a guy like that, it always helps to make decisions and he always gives you his honest opinion and that’s all you can ask for – to have truthful and faithful teammates.”

Outside of going out and playing a few full seasons, Ference can’t do much to shake the “injury-prone” tag he has picked up the last few seasons. But what Chiarelli and the Bruins’ brass want is for him to do what he does best – moving the puck, taking the body, blocking shots – for however long he’s able to be out on the ice.

Ever since the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Hunwick arrived in the Boston organization, he has been able to emulate the 5-foot-11, 189-pound Ference. Both players are now under contract for next season, so there’s a chance Hunwick will have to a chance to keep a close eye on Ference as he tries to continue his development.

“It’s obviously a stabilizing force on our blue line. He’s a veteran, he’s calm with the puck, he’s poised. For a smaller defender, he’s obviously physical and he plays hard. That’s what this organization is all about, getting guys that compete hard and Andy definitely does that, as well as move the puck well,” said Hunwick.

It obviously helps a coach, whose defensive system can be difficult to digest, when a team keeps some consistency in its personnel on the back end. With four of the Bruins’ current blueliner under contract for 2010-11, Claude Julien might be barking orders at pretty much the same group next winter.

“He’s been a pretty reliable defenseman when he’s played for us. Good for him he’s come to an agreement,” said Julien. “Certainly some stability and some experience back there. He’s also a good leader and, again, barring injuries he’s been nothing but dependable.”