Ference looking at Europe as way to stay sharp during lockout

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Ference looking at Europe as way to stay sharp during lockout

CAMBRIDGE Andrew Ference isnt leaving Boston in the next few weeks, and his family is going to stick around as theyve planted roots in the fair city over the last six years.

But the 33-year-old defenseman cant sit around forever and wait for the NHL and NHLPA to come to accordance on a new collective bargaining agreement. Instead Ference is among the many players eyeing Europe if theres a prolonged work stoppage reaching into December or January. The choice to move abroad for hockey work is as much about practicality as anything else for Ference, who is in the final year of a three-year deal with the Bruins and cant afford to fall behind the NHL flock.

During the last lockout you saw some guys that stayed behind when others went to Europe or played in the AHL. Those guys fell a step behind the other players when the NHL got started again, and they had a really difficult time catching up to the pace, said Ference. Im in the last year of my deal and I cant afford to just sit around and allow the intensity to dial down in my workouts.

There were over 200 NHL players that never returned to the NHL following the 2004-05 lockout due to age, injuries, rust and the quickened pace of the game among other things, so its a legitimate concern.

Most NHL players will flock to Europe for a few dollars and the chance to play somewhere a little more exotic than North America. But the biggest reason for an NHL player to head overseas is to remain sharp while playing in high intensity hockey games. Both the NHL and NBA players are fortunate there are many quality pro leagues in Europe looking for players when a work stoppage hits.

Along with David Krejci and Dennis Seidenberg who are about a week away from leaving to play in their home countries until the NHL resumes Ference is hoping to find a spot as many players look for an employment port during the lockout season. Ference played 31 games for HC Ceske Budejovice during the 2004-05 lockout, and finished with 20 points in a productive offensive role for the Czech Republic club.

The Bs alternate captain confirmed that another stint with Ceske Budejovice was certainly within the realm of possibility. Ference didnt seem concerned there would be difficulty finding a job in Europe if he waited for a few months to see how things come together in labor negotiations.

There are no shortage of great leagues out there where you can keep yourself sharp, said Ference. I think most of us are going to wait at least a few weeks to see if the negotiations heat up. If they dont then youll start to see guys make the move thats best for their career. Thats something different for each individual player.

For Ference that will include Europe if the best efforts of the NHL and the NHLPA dont get things going over the next month.

Chara on slumping Bruins: Players shouldn't have to be told to work hard

Chara on slumping Bruins: Players shouldn't have to be told to work hard

BRIGHTON -- The on-ice portion of Bruins practice kicked off about an hour later than scheduled at Warrior Ice Arena on Monday morning.

The B's are reeling, having lost four games in a row for the first time this season after getting dumped by the Penguins, 5-1, in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon. Their standing in the Atlantic Division, and the playoff picture, is tenuous at best with so many other teams holding games in hand over them, and it truly looks like they're going to slide out of the race if they can’t reverse their fortunes.

So Claude Julien, saying "desperate times call for desperate measures," summoned the players to a video session where flaws, mistakes, half-hearted efforts and bad systems-play was pointed out in front of everyone. The team then took the ice to iron out those problems in an hour-long practice that the embattled Bruins coach hopes will lead to better results in the final two games, against Detroit and Pittsburgh, before the All-Star break.

“He was showing details that we were doing well early on in the season to have success, and little things that we’ve gotten away from that we need to correct,” said captain Zdeno Chara. “We need to start doing them again. It’s a game of little details and we need to make sure we do them right.”

While Chara wouldn’t comment on the tone of the video session, it’s clear that things like effort, determination and desperation were probably talking points just as much as fine-tuning Julien’s long-held offensive and defensive systems.

“It’s commitment," said Chara. "That’s for sure, that we need to have everybody doing that. We shouldn’t . . . at this level, at this time of the season, [have to be] asking guys to work hard. We’ve got to make sure that everybody is working hard, and everybody is paying his dues to be in the lineup and earn a spot.

“That’s the No. 1 priority: You have to compete and you have to work hard. Usually when you do those things, good things happen. We’ve got to back to those little things [with] hard work, commitment and competing every shift.”

Will an honest, direct video session between head coach and players be the key to stopping the team’s most demoralizing stretch of the season, and lead to a prolonged winning streak? Only time will tell.

But the Bruins need something to get spinning in an entirely different direction. 

Monday, Jan. 23: Yandle endorses Coyotes

Monday, Jan. 23: Yandle endorses Coyotes

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while sorting through all the Bruins-related alternative facts out there.

*Matthew Tkachuk is having some disagreements with his parents about his mouth-guard usage with the Calgary Flames.

*Former Yotes D-man Keith Yandle says that the Arizona Coyotes “know what they’re doing” despite their decent to the cellar in the Western Conference.

*Insights on every goaltending situation in the NHL from the crack ESPN.com staff breaking down the fantasy rankings.

*The struggles continue for the Tampa Bay Lightning as they can’t seem to gain any traction in the Atlantic Division.

*Wayne Simmonds took the blame for a late penalty that led to Philly’s undoing as they battle for playoff position in the East.

*Sounds like Patrik Laine might be nearing a return to the lineup, and that’s a very good thing for the Winnipeg Jets.

*For something completely different: We have a title for the next Star Wars film. It’s going to be called “The Last Jedi.”