February 3, 2014

Ference the latest ex-Bruin to have rough return to Boston

By Jesse Connolly


Andrew Ference was on the ice for each of Boston's four goals Saturday. (Photo by Sharon Bradley/New England Hockey Journal)
 

Nothing creates an emotional pickle for a sports fan quite like the return of a beloved former player. Such was the case on Saturday afternoon, when presumably each and every one of the 17,565 folks on hand at TD Garden wished they could get the best of both worlds: a win for the Bruins and a good game for Andrew Ference.

Unfortunately, they only got the former, with the B’s earning a 4-0 win over the visiting Oilers. Ference, a Bruin for seven seasons, received a nice tribute montage in the opening frame, but Edmonton’s captain finished minus-4 in his first game back in the building since Game 6 of last year’s Stanley Cup Final.

It got me to thinking: Was Ference’s rough return the norm? One might think so with Tim Thomas’ disastrous showing fresh in their minds. What I found was a mixed bag.

I dug up 22 players that have skated for Boston since the 2005 lockout (got to love having to specify that!) and made their way back to Causeway Street. Yes, a few less-prominent individuals might've slipped the cracks.

The 22 returnees own a combined record of 13-9 in their first games back in Boston. The 20 skaters totaled seven points and a rating of minus-9. The two goaltenders had a combined record of 1-1, though the victorious one left midway through the contest due to injury.

The consensus seems to be this: Team-wise, returning players fare pretty well. Individually? Not so much. Here’s a trip down memory lane (in alphabetical order):

Andrew Alberts

Feb. 7, 2009 | Philadelphia Flyers

How he left: Traded to Flyers early in 2008-09 after three full seasons in Boston.

His return: Alberts had a quiet day with no points, an even plus-minus rating and a pair of blocked shots in 13:08 of ice time. Philadelphia erased a 3-1 deficit, winning the game in overtime on a goal from Randy Jones.

Result: Win | Points: 0 | Plus-minus: 0

Brad Boyes

Dec. 22, 2007| St. Louis Blues

How he left: Traded Feb. 27, 2007 to St. Louis for Dennis Wideman.

His return: During a season in which he scored a career-high 43 goals, Boyes buried the game-winner in his return to Boston, which the Blues won by a score of 4-1.

Result: Win | Points: 1 | Plus-minus: +1

Joe Corvo

Apr. 8, 2013 | Carolina Hurricanes

How he left: The B’s let Corvo (right) walk as a free agent in the summer of 2012.

His return: Boston jumped out to a 5-0 lead, lighting up goaltenders Justin Peters and Dan Ellis. Corvo was on the ice for a pair of goals by Brad Marchand in the first period in the eventual 6-2 loss.

Result: Loss | Points: 0 | Plus-minus: -2

Andrew Ference

Feb. 1, 2014 | Edmonton Oilers

How he left: With cap space precious and youngsters emerging on the blue line, the Bruins didn’t bring Ference back for an eighth season with the club.

His return: The Oilers’ three-game winning streak came to an end with a 4-0 loss at TD Garden. Ference, Edmonton’s captain, was on the ice for each of Boston’s goals.

Result: Loss | Points: 0 | Plus-minus: -4

Jaromir Jagr

Oct. 26, 2014 | New Jersey Devils

How he left: After acquiring him for the stretch run and the playoffs in 2013, the Bruins did not re-sign the future Hall of Famer.

His return: Jagr set up two goals, including the game-winner with 45 seconds left, as the Devils came back from a 3-1 deficit to win by a score of 4-3.

Result: Win | Points: 2 | Plus-minus: 0

Tomas Kaberle

Oct. 18, 2011 | Carolina Hurricanes

How he left: Kaberle wasn’t as big of a factor offensively as was predicted. He left via free agency for Carolina.

His return: Kaberle (right) received his Cup ring and helped Carolina earn a 4-1 win over the B’s with a power-play assist, as the Bruins were in the midst of their championship hangover.

Result: Win | Points: 1 | Plus-minus: 0

Phil Kessel

Dec. 5, 2003 | Toronto Maple Leafs

How he left: The B’s couldn’t come to terms with the RFA, who was dealt to Toronto for two first-round picks and a second-round selection.

His return: Kessel didn’t face his old club until two months in the season after recuperating from shoulder surgery. After racking up six points in his previous four games, No. 81 was held to no points, was hit hard, jeered relentlessly and finished minus-3 in a lopsided 7-2 setback.

Result: Loss | Points: 0 | Plus-minus: -3

Chuck Kobasew

Jan. 6, 2011 | Minnesota Wild

How he left: The B’s freed up cap and roster space, dealing Kobasew to the Wild for Craig Weller, Alex Fallstrom and a second-round pick that year which turned out to be Alex Khokhlachev.

His return: Kobasew was all smiles in the visiting locker room when catching up with the media before the contest and surely felt gratified afterward, as Minnesota won the game, 3-1. He helped the Wild kill all four of Boston’s power plays.

Result: Win | Points: 0 | Plus-minus: -1

Rich Peverley

Nov. 5, 2013 | Dallas Stars

How he left: Peverley (right) was packaged with Tyler Seguin and Ryan Button in the deal that brought Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow to the Bruins.

His return: Peverley had a tough go of it in regulation (minus-2), but he buried the game-winner in a 3-2 shootout victory.

Result: Win | Points: 0 | Plus-minus: -2

Benoit Pouliot

Mar. 2, 2013 | Tampa Bay Lightning

How he left: After just one year in Boston, Pouliot was dealt to the Bolts on draft weekend for Michel Ouellet and a fifth-round pick (Seth Griffith).

His return: The Bruins rallied for a 3-2 win, but Pouliot missed nearly the entire game after suffering an upper-body injury on a hard hit from Dennis Seidenberg. He finished with just 3:56 of ice time.

Result: Loss | Points: 0 | Plus-minus: 0

Andrew Raycroft

Nov. 9, 2006 | Toronto Maple Leafs

How he left: The 2003-04 Calder Trophy winner was dealt to Toronto after a rough 2005-06 campaign, with the Bruins acquiring the rights to Tuukka Rask.

His return: With Toronto leading 5-2, Raycroft suffered a groin strain and had to be pulled during the second period. The Leafs hung on for a 6-4 victory.

Result: Win | Saves: 28 | Goals against: 2

Michael Ryder

Mar. 3, 2013 | Montreal Canadiens

How he left: After a dismal regular season, Ryder parlayed a stellar Cup run into a two-year deal with Dallas worth $3.5 million annually.

His return: Ryder (right) returned as a Hab, nearly two years after the Stars signed him, as Dallas traded him one week prior back to Montreal. He notched a power-play assist on Montreal’s first goal in an eventual 4-3 victory.

Result: Win | Points: 1 | Plus-minus: 0

Sergei Samsonov

Oct. 26, 2006 | Montreal Canadiens

How he left: The former eighth overall pick was dealt by the rebuilding Bruins to Edmonton for Marty Reasoner, Yan Stastny and a second-rounder (Milan Lucic) in 2006.

His return: Early on in a frustrating campaign (nine goals in 63 games), Samsonov came back to Boston as a member of the hated Habs. He was held scoreless in Montreal’s 3-2 victory.

Result: Win | Points: 0 | Plus-minus: 0

Tyler Seguin

Nov. 5, 2013 | Dallas Stars

How he left: Seguin was packaged with Rich Peverley and Ryan Button in the deal that brought Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow to the Bruins.

His return: Seguin didn’t torch his old team in regulation, but he scored a big goal in the shootout that tied things up, setting up Peverley’s aforementioned game-winner.

Result: Win | Points: 0 | Plus-minus: +1

Vladimir Sobotka

Nov. 6, 2010 | St. Louis Blues

How he left: After the Bruins’ collapse against Philadelphia, Sobotka was traded to the Blues in exchange for prospect David Warsofsky (Marshfield, Mass.).

His return: Sobotka (right) had one of the best returns of any former Bruin. He scored St. Louis’ lone goal in regulation and was 13-of-16 on faceoffs in an eventual 2-1 shootout victory.

Result: Win | Points: 1 | Plus-minus: +1

Brad Stuart

Nov. 29, 2008 | Detroit Red Wings

How he left: The centerpiece of the Joe Thornton trade was flipped to Calagary, along with Wayne Primeau, for Kobasew and Ference midway through the 2006-07 season.

His return: After stints with the Flames and Kings, Stuart didn’t make it back to Boston for over two years. His Wings lost 4-1.

Result: Loss | Points: 0 | Plus-minus: -1

Mark Stuart

Apr. 2, 2011 | Atlanta Thrashers

How he left: Stuart was packaged with Blake Wheeler and traded to Atlanta for Peverley and Boris Valabik.

His return: Less than two months after being dealt, Stuart returned to TD Garden with the soon-to-be-relocated Thrashers and was warmly welcomed. He blocked four shots, but Atlanta fell, 3-2.

Result: Loss | Points: 0 | Plus-minus: +1

Marco Sturm

Dec. 8, 2011 | Florida Panthers

How he left: With the Bruins tight against the cap, Sturm (right) was dealt to L.A. in December 2010 for future considerations.

His return: The man who buried the game-winner in the 2010 Winter Classic had a quiet evening in what was his lone appearance in Boston after his days with the B’s. Sturm was held pointless in 13-plus minutes of ice time, but the Panthers scored twice in the final minutes to earn a 2-0 victory.

Result: Win | Points: 0 | Plus-minus: 0

Tim Thomas

Jan. 28, 2014 | Florida Panthers

How he left: After deciding to take a year off from hockey, Thomas was dealt during the 2012-13 season for cap space to the Islanders.

His return: After being injured during Florida’s trip to Boston in November, Thomas was finally back between the pipes at TD Garden. He was lit up for six goals on 41 shots in a 6-2 loss.

Result: Loss | Saves: 35 | Goals against: 6

Joe Thornton

Jan. 10, 2006 | San Jose Sharks

How he left: The Bruins traded their captain just months into the post-lockout era to San Jose, receiving Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau in return.

His return: Jumbo Joe stuck around for less than six minutes of an eventual 6-2 win. He was ejected for checking old friend Hal Gill from behind in the first period.

Result: Win | Points: 0 | Plus-minus: 0

Aaron Ward

Oct. 3, 2009 | Carolina Hurricanes

How he left: In July 2009, Ward was traded to the ‘Canes for Patrick Eaves – who was soon bought out – and a fourth-round pick (Craig Cunningham) in 2010.

His return: Ward’s second game back with Carolina came in Boston. The Hurricanes fell by a score of 7-2. Ward (right) set up one of the ‘Canes two goals, but he finished minus-2 in 20 minutes of ice time.

Result: Loss | Points: 1 | Plus-minus: -2

Blake Wheeler

Apr. 2, 2011 | Atlanta Thrashers

How he left: Wheeler was packaged with Mark Stuart and traded to Atlanta for Peverley and Boris Valabik.

His return: Wheeler led the Thrashers in ice time (21:06), but he didn’t figure in on any of the scoring in the aforementioned 3-2 loss.

Result: Loss | Points: 0 | Plus-minus: 0

Twitter: @JesseNEHJ
Email: jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com