The Bruins have enjoyed plenty of reunion games against former teammates this season, and perhaps not enjoyed one or two of them so much.
There will be plenty of smiles and handshakes before and after the game Thursday night when the Bruins suit up against Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference, who helped build up the championship-level hockey team now residing in Boston.
With the Bruins system bursting with talented young defenseman, Ference left as an unrestricted free agent following the run to the Stanley Cup Final last season and he's taken a veteran leadership role with the young Oil club.
Ference has four points (2 goals, 2 assists) and a minus-6 rating in 32 games this season, and has been charged – along with Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins and other key players -- with helping instill a defensive mindset to go along with the speed and skill of Edmonton’s young group.
Claude Julien thinks Ference is exactly the kind of guy that can do it, given his contributions to dressing-room harmony and the feisty mindset featured by the Black and Gold in Ference's years in Boston.
“Andy was such a good individual and player for us. I know he’s a captain here. I always felt he had the personality and demeanor to be a really good leader. He was on our team,” Julien said to reporters on Wednesday. “Zee [Zdeno Chara] really relied on him quite a bit. Everything from how hard he played and what he put on the ice, to what he did in the community, to everything he and his family did with new players coming in and their wives...he was always very good to help out.
“Those kinds of things don’t get forgotten. I’m just glad he had an opportunity to come back home [to Edmonton], and I’m glad he’s still playing the game and is captain of a hockey team. He’s very deserving of that because of who he is, and what he’s done [in his career].”
While there will be smiles and good cheer before and after the game, expect to see the same competitive, fiery Ference on the ice leading his Oilers against a team he’ll likely be highly motivated to beat on Thursday night.