By Mary Paoletti
WILMINGTON -- Andrew Ference laughed outright at his critics after practice on Tuesday.
"When guys like Don Cherry or Mike Milbury start making it into an issue when they've never been in our locker room -- literally, never been in our locker room -- they don't know what our locker-room dynamics are," he said. "There's absolutely no issue down here."
The defenseman was addressing the firestorm he ignited within NHL media last Thursday.
His critique of the hit that earned teammate Daniel Paille a four-game suspension in Boston's 6-3 win over Dallas was treated as treason. In their Saturday commentary for Hockey Night in Canada, Mike Milbury and Don Cherry chastised Ference for tagging Paille's check of Raymond Sawada a "bad hit," saying that the Boston blueliner should have shown solidarity with his fellow Bruin.
Milbury and Cherry said the team would be divided. According to Ference, nothing could be farther from the truth.
"We have a really good team. It's honest and open, with young guys and old guys all contributing to that. Something like that . . . " Ference shook his head and laughed. "It isn't going to tear apart a room or split us up. It's ludicrous.
"We actually all found it somewhat amusing," he continued. "We even pulled up the clips on YouTube at the Super Bowl party just to watch them because we were all having a good laugh about it. So really, it was much ado about nothing."
Ference was relaxed and matter-of-fact -- speaking just a few steps away from his locker-room neighbor, Paille. A constant in his quotes was that use of the word "we," as he stressed that this is the way they're dealing with both the suspension and the supposed controversy: As a team.
"Even Bergy Patrice Bergeron was like, 'Well, I kind of said the same thing after the game.' He had comments that were basically the same. So maybe it's a little more unique to our team just because of what we've dealt with on the receiving end."