Just as it has been for all the Boston Bruins players, this summer has been a whirlwind and a blur for Andrew Ference. He says he's finally getting back into a routine to prepare for the 2011-12 season and hopefully help his teammates defend the Stanley Cup championship.
"The week after [winning the Cup] was just nuts with all the stuff that was going on, and even just celebrating with family," Ference said from his summer home in British Columbia. "Everybody is just happy and obviously it's a real positive thing. Once we actually got on a plane to go back to Canada to see all the family for the summer, that's when it kind of caught up to us. The first couple weeks in Canada were recovery, resting the body and mind."
While Ference acknowledged he was mentally and physically fatigued after the season, and still is a bit, he's not complaining. Ference was fatigued in the summer of 2004 after he and the Calgary Flames went to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The difference then was that the Flames lost.
"It's hard, for sure, recovering both mentally and physically, but at least you're in a good mood, happy and everyone around you is just excited," Ference said. "I draw back to when I was with Calgary and we went all the way to seven in the finals. But we lost there and it was the same thing, a shortened summer after a long season and you do all the same stuff but you're pissed off doing it. So this has been more enjoyable."
A trip to Hawaii with his family helped recharge his batteries.
"That was a really great trip from going from celebratory mode to getting ready for next year mentally," Ference said of his week in Hawaii. "So now I am back here in British Columbia, getting into a normal routine. I was on the ice [Tuesday] and getting going with my trainer, so it's back to a normal summer with just a bigger smile on my face."
Ference said he tries not to look too far ahead or think about the upcoming season, but is excited that the defending Stanley Cup champions will return a very strong core of talent and leadership.
"It's a great group and now there is a fairly substantial group of us that has been there for a number of years together and really have gone through everything together," Ference said.
What Ference likes best about the current roster is how everyone embraces the different personalities within the dressing room.
"We've done a lot together and the best thing about this group of guys is that we all can just be ourselves," he said. "We don't have to put out some effort to be something that we're not or pretend we're something that we're not. We all have pretty unique characters and that's celebrated in this dressing room. I mean, I am quirky enough in my own ways but it's not frowned upon in our locker room. Guys are embraced for who they are and I think that's why we have such a tight core."
Ference's quirkiness admittedly led him to go on eBay one night and buy an old-school Bruins jacket that became a major part of the 2010-11 Bruins' identity. Late in the season, the team started giving the jacket to a player it deemed the MVP after each win; the ritual continued through the playoffs, with one of the more memorable moments being when the jacket hung in the dressing room of the injured Nathan Horton after Horton suffered a concussion in Game 3 of the finals. The team rallied around him for a win that night and used the incident as motivation in the series. The jacket will now be framed and hung in the Bruins' dressing room.
"It was funny, really," Ference said with a chuckle. "I still think it was hilarious seeing guys wear it after games in postgame interviews and in the locker room. You see some of the stuff and highlights, and I laugh every time because I think it was funny. But, yeah, it did kind of take on a life of its own, especially with 'Horty' [Horton]. ... With him getting hurt and then us rallying around him, that became even more symbolic and united us, taking it to another level. That's part of the history now and hopefully that can be inspiring to players down the line. ... It's a piece of what we did and it's a cool story. Ten years from now, guys in the locker room will look at it and hear stories about our team."
Ference is now gearing up for training camp, which will begin Sept. 16, but before that he will get his day with the Stanley Cup in Boston on Labor Day. From the sounds of it, there may be some interesting stories that come from his day with Lord Stanley.
"I got something planned that's gonna one-up everyone else, that's all I'll say," Ference said.
James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Ask a question for his next Bruins mailbag here.