How much did he hold the attention of the Boston sports fan?
Ference is among a group of defensemen critical to Claude Julien's operation, but things such as his environmentalism, tattoos, and affinity for surfing make him seem like anything but a hockey player off the ice.
How big was his impact for his team/organization?
Ference's impact goes beyond the Bruins or the city of Boston. An environmental activist, Ference created the NHL's carbon-neutral program four years ago after establishing a relationship with Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki, who prior to their relationship was simply the answer to a reporter's question about which celebrity Ference would most like to have dinner with.
"When you're a professional athlete and people look up to you, you have a responsibility to represent something," Ference told Sports Illustrated in 2008. Ference, along with then-Flames teammates Chuck Kobasew, Jarome Iginla and Robyn Regehr, became one of the first NHL players to ever go "carbon-neutral." Ference achieved this by adding up all the travel, hotels and anything else that pumped CO2 into the air over the course of the season, which totaled 25 1/2 tons. Gold standard credits were then purchased to offset the his carbon footprint, and by the next season, 523 teammates had joined his cause.
How much would he be missed if he wasn't here?
The Bruins are a defensive-minded team, and Ference has played on a core that has helped Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas lead the league in goals against average the last two seasons, respectively. If the Bruins were to lose Ference, they would lose one of their more intelligent players and capable defensemen.
How much buzz does he create around the water cooler?
If being the first guy to punch Sidney Crosby in the face doesn't get your attention, what does? Ference fought the all-galaxy forward back on Dec. 20, 2007. It was Crosby's first NHL tango, but just one of many fights the 31-year-old Ference has had.
Ference is also a heavily tattooed punk rock enthusiast, and is the only Bruin to list Tim Armstrong and the boys of Rancid as his favorite band in the media guide.
How much emotion does the mere mention of his name evoke?
The fascinating thing with Ference is that he may be just as well-known for his views and the message he is trying to create as he is for his play, which is not a slight at either. In the offseason, he grabbed headlines when he went down to the Gulf Coast to witness the damage of the BP disaster back in July.
While the idea of "going green" has gained increasing popularity, Ference has been a lifelong believer in reducing one's carbon footprint, something he hopes he can use his status as a professional athlete to promote.
How hard would he be to replace?
Ference's personality, ideals and steady play on the ice make him one of the most unusual players in the league, so "impossible" is a word that comes to mind regarding replacing the total package that Ference brings.
The Peter Chiarelli regime is not known for taking the wait-and-see approach with valued players in free agency. Ference is an example of this, as the team extended him mid-season last year on a three-year pact to ensure his talents weren't taken elsewhere.
How polarizing is he to the city?
With interest in the Bruins rising with each passing Tim Thomas shutout, it's hard to find a Bruins fan who doesn't have some sort of opinion on Andrew Ference. Simply put, he's not you're average hockey player, and the fanbase has embraced him for it.
How polarizing is he to his team?
Not at all. Ference is certainly one of the guys in the close-knit Bruins' locker room and unquestionably has the back of his teammates. The most recent evidence came when he didn't fancy a hard hit a Blues forward laid on Mark Recchi on Saturday, resulting in a tussle between Ference and Backes.
On a more lighthearted note, when the B's took an overnight flight from Boston to Belfast at the end of September to kick off their European trip, Ference was among a group of guys to sleep on the floor of the plane. Ference had only "a towel that was as thin as paper" providing comfort as he slept on the floor, a tactic he once depended on while sleeping on buses in his Western Hockey League days.
Mike talked about if Tim Thomas has ended the controversy and is the clear number 1 goalie for the Bruins, how close he thinks Thomas was to being traded and if it would be silly to trade him now, the play of the Maple Leafs after the Bruins beat them in Boston, the challenges for younger guys adjusting to life in the NHL, and if the New Jersey Devils made a mistake signing Ilya Kovalchuk to a long-term deal.
Tim talked about being named the second star for the month of October, if he has ever had a streak like this in his career, what was his state of mind seeing Tuukka Rask last season taking over the number 1 goalie role, how Claude Julien told him going into the season that nobody was entitled to being the #1 goalie, if he has ever requested a trade or if the Bruins have approached him about one, and how his hip is feeling after undergoing surgery in the offseason.
Nathan talked about an amazing start to his career in Boston, how it might have been time for a change of scenery and the trade worked out well, how it is totally different playing for Boston as opposed to Florida, who he models his game after, what it is like playing on the wing with David Krejci, the differences playing for the B's as opposed to the Panthers, and the goaltending of Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask.