By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA
Eleven seasons of chasing the Stanley Cup were more than enough to make Andrew Ference appreciate the coveted hardware when he lifted it in June with the Boston Bruins.
As for capturing the title last season with the Bs, that gave the 32-year-old defenseman another perspective on the game of hockey.
I think I have more of an understanding now that it isnt just all hard work and all those things, because every team is trying to do that, he said. You can edge people in certain categories and stuff like that, but at the end of day, I think you begin to realize how much things are out of your control to a certain degree. You control what you can and you leave the rest up to chance.
On Thursday night Ference will kick off his 12th season with a unique outlook as he and his teammates raise their banner to the rafters at TD Garden. After coming within one game of winning it all with the Calgary Flames in 2004, experiencing the thrill of victory with the Bruins in June offered him a different kind of appreciation of what it takes to become a champion.
I think the older Ive gotten and you spend years in the league, I think losing gives you a better perspective than winning does, he said. I lost in the Finals in Calgary and that was more of a learning experience about how much you have to really respect the game and your teammates and how hard it is to actually win and to get that extra little bit. Also, on the same token, it makes you realize how you need fortunate bounces and you need health and things that are a little bit out of your control.
This summer Ference was joined in his Stanley Cup celebrations by a longtime friend, Jesse. The two played hockey together growing up and shared the same passion of one day going pro. Of all the people who shared in Ferences journey to victory -- his supportive parents, his grandparents who watched every game, his extended family who rejoiced in the win at their annual summer reunion -- it was Jesse who seemed the most affected by his happiness.
He told me, Ive cried eight times today, Ference recalled.
Ference had accomplished the goal he and so many of his friends had dreamt of for years. Others had fought hard just like he did, but he points to a combination of perseverance and circumstances that led him to the NHL, the Bruins, and eventually, the Stanley Cup.
I think the older you get, the more you realize how much good luck plays into it and good timing getting drafted to the right team, having a good coach, having a spot open to play, he said. No matter how hard you work, you still need things to fall into place and all those fortunate things to kind of happen. I dont pretend that I just got here just because I worked hard because there are a lot of guys that worked hard and they dont get the luck and the fortunate timing.
I feel very fortunate, very lucky everything fell into place perfectly.
Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.com!JCameratoNBA.