Former NHLer Andrew Ference shares crazy story from his time with Oilers

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Former Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference oozed personality and character in his playing days, and this story from 2014 embodies that perfectly. (Getty Images)
Former Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference was best known as a fiery character in his playing days, and this story from 2014 is another glaring example. (Getty Images)

Transitioning to the National Hockey League tends to be a difficult challenge for any player. It’s even tougher when you’re dragged into the wilderness as an unsuspecting young prospect.

There’s no part of hockey that can prepare for that turn of events.

With NHL development camps ongoing across the league, former NHL defenceman Andrew Ference took to social media to share an unusual experience he orchestrated during his days with the Edmonton Oilers, who he captained for two seasons from 2013-2015.

Ference says the team asked him to appear at the Oilers' 2014 development camp, but he declined. Instead, the 2011 Stanley Cup champion came up with a different idea, one he felt would be more beneficial to the organization’s young prospects in attendance.

With the help of his friend, an Army Ranger from Boston, and a few Canadian Light infantry members, Ference devised a plan to essentially kidnap the Oilers prospects from their hotel rooms. From there, they brought them out to the woods and conducted some army training.

Oh, and the players weren’t briefed on any of the details. They were completely kept in the dark the entire time.

According to Ference, some of the activities included a couple hours of ambushes and a few mock evacuations. Everyone had to sleep outdoors, obviously, and without any tents. The food wasn’t very appetizing, either, as the prospects had to settle for military rations to nourish themselves.

By the end, Ference and his army friends voted on which player stood out the most during all the activities. Their answer: Leon Draisaitl.

You could say they knew back then how dominant the now-26-year-old would be in the NHL. And he’s certainly delivered on those high expectations, notably winning the Hart and Art Ross trophies in 2019-2020.

Ference felt this exercise could add some perspective to these players' rather privileged lives, and wanted to teach them some invaluable life skills that transcend hockey.

Ference was widely known as one of the toughest players in the NHL, where he played 907 career games across 16 seasons, so it shouldn’t be entirely surprising to read that he masterminded this unique experience.

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