NHLer Andrew Ference shares captain's perspective with the NDP

Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference knows a lot about hockey and, it turns out, a fair bit about politics, too, and he shared some of that perspective with the NDP caucus Wednesday.
Edmonton NHLer Andrew Ference tells reporters why he's interested in politics and how he balances his environmental concerns with being captain of a team called the "Oilers." 5:41

Hockey and politics have more in common that one might think, including the need to attract a strong fan base, to score points and to keep your elbows up at all times — just ask Andrew Ference.

The captain of the NHL's Edmonton Oilers knows a lot about hockey and, it turns out, a fair bit about politics, too.

Ference was on hand at the NDP's national caucus meeting in Edmonton Wednesday to talk about leadership. He advised the MPs to be genuine and engage with the community.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, left, and Alberta MP Linda Duncan present Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference with an NDP jersey at the party's caucus meeting in Edmonton Wednesday. (Rosemary Barton/CBC)

"It's tremendously empowering to feel you have a role in your society that's respected and a role that will help make your city and your country stronger," Ference said.

Ference, who also addressed the party's national convention on Halifax in 2009, says he's not partisan and is happy to accept an invitation to speak anywhere. But he does have a clear perspective.

He is not only active in his community, he also led the charge in the NHL to create a successful carbon offset program for hockey players.

Focus on 'what you're building'

When asked if he has any advice for the NDP as it struggles to understand how to respond to the growing popularity of Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, he is reluctant to make parallels between a hockey team and a political party.

But he does say you can choose to focus on "individual losses" or you can focus on "what you're building."

"You are constructing something that takes time, and good quality things do take that time and they take that attention to try and build them. And you can't just sprinkle fancy dust on it and all of a sudden it works," he offers.

Work on the foundation, Ference advised. Which, strangely enough, is something the party's late leader, Jack Layton, always said too.

So, does he see a life in politics after his NHL career?

"It's something obviously I find intriguing and it's fun, but I have no idea when hockey is over what I'm going to do," Ference said.

"But I'm not closing any doors."

A future politician's response if there ever was one.

About the Author

Rosemary Barton co-hosts The National. She has interviewed many high-profile politicians including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former prime minister Stephen Harper, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde.