Former Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference played just six games during the 2015-16 NHL season, then sat out the entirety of the 2016-17 campaign.
Now, in an unsurprising move, he’s hanging up his skates for good.
It was announced on Thursday that Ference has formally retired from the NHL after 16 seasons, walking away from the game with a Stanley Cup, a King Clancy Memorial Trophy, and just under 1,000 NHL games played.
“As I graduate from my time of playing in the NHL, I realize I have the problem of being unable to properly thank the hundreds of people who have helped me achieve my goal of playing in the best league in the world. No one gets here on their own, especially average sized guys with average skills. If you think you deserve a thank you from me, you probably do…Thanks!”
“My girls, Ava and Stella, and my wife, Krista, however do deserve a proper thanks and my infinite gratitude. They tended my broken bones and bruised ego more times than I can count and gave me unending love and support even when I missed a Christmas concert for a road trip.”
“My parents and sister didn’t teach me a lick about skating or shooting but they did teach me a ton about life off of the ice. Because of their lessons, I leave the game having a lot of pride in what I accomplished away from the rink in the great communities where I played.”
“Lastly, thank you to Pittsburgh, Calgary, České Budějovice, Boston and Edmonton. Your love of our sport provided me with an incredible stage to play on and your cities will always feel like home to me. Hockey fans really are amazing!”
Drafted 208th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1997, the Edmonton, Alberta native went pro in 1999 out of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.
He made an almost immediate jump to the NHL, skating out in 30 games with Pittsburgh during his first pro season and hitting the league full time just two seasons later.
Over 907 career games, the undersized defenseman would put up 43 goals and 225 points, skating out for the Penguins, Calgary Flames, Boston Bruins, and finally his hometown Oilers as captain. He took home the cup in 2011 with Boston.
A hip injury ultimately derailed the final few years of his career, leaving the Oilers wrapping up the last two seasons of his contract with a long-term injured reserve placement. Now, he’ll get to hang up the skates officially, although there was no expectation that he’d be hitting free agency looking for any kind of new contract.