The man who brought the famed vintage jacket, not to mention the infamous malfunctioning glove, to last year's Stanley Cup run has now added some special neckwear he hopes will help inspire a repeat run.
Ference introduced his latest creation Thursday after the Bruins beat Washington 1-0 in overtime in the opening game of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. Chris Kelly scored the game's lone goal 1:18 into sudden death, and after the game became the first recipient of "The Chain."
The heir to "The Jacket," this oversized chain features 20 links representing the 20 players dressing in each game held together by a padlock engraved with the Bruins logo.
"We have our success when everybody's going and doing their role," Ference said after practice iday at the Garden. "We had talked about not being a weak link and having a lot of pride. The guys kind of feed off that, so it was just kind of from that and just being goofy. We're not trying to necessarily replicate the jacket, but it’s kind of a fun thing to do after games."
Like the jacket, the chain will be awarded to the top performer in each Bruins victory for the rest of the playoffs. The current holder of the chain will determine who gets it next, but for the inaugural coronation, the designer got to pick the recipient, and Ference had little trouble settling on OT hero Kelly.
"I just like the fact that Kells had to wear it first," Ference said. "I don't know if people knew if it was a fashion statement or not, because he kept a pretty straight face. But it's really not anything too serious. It’s just for fun and hopefully something we can look back on and have as a one of the memories."
It was certainly memorable seeing Kelly emerge for his post-game news conference alongside Tim Thomas with the giant chain and padlock around his neck.
"It's not too bad," Kelly said, "but for a guy with a thin neck …" Kelly said with a rueful shrug.
"I thought I'm gonna stick out now," Kelly added. "I had to do that interview [at the podium] and was a little – I don't know. Some guys would eat it up. That's not my style, but it's nice. It's a great thing for the team and it's truly a team thing. Andrew always comes up with some great ideas."
And how did Ference come up with this latest creation?
"Apparently I have too much time on my hands," Ference said. "Or nobody else knows how to use the internet. I don't know."
Ference himself didn't know anything about designing chains, but when he discovered that the original padlock featuring a bear that he found on eBay had already been sold, he decided to make his own, etching a Bruins logo into the padlock.
"I did that, I bought an engraving kit," Ference said proudly. "I was sitting at my kitchen table trying to learn how to engrave on the fly. I'm a renaissance man."
The Bruins were all quick to embrace the symbolism of the chain, but there is a little skepticism about the aesthetics, which evoked memories of 90s rappers Naughty by Nature for some. Kelly went back even further, admitting an affinity for the WWF growing up as he thought of the Junkyard Dog when presented with chain.
But the real concern is that some of the club's more adventurous dressers will enjoy wearing the chain a little too much.
"We're worried about Marshy [Brad Marchand], he might actually take it and wear it around," Ference said. "We're going to have to set ground rules that it can't leave the rink."
The Bruins will monitor the chain's travels, but all they really care about is making sure that it gets handed out 16 times this spring. And if the chain can help inspire those 16 wins, the Bruins are just fine with whatever fashion statement it makes.
"It's good, I think Andrew thrives on those kinds of things and it goes back to personalities in the dressing room," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "There's different personalities and at the same time, we've said that all along and we keep saying it, we've got great team chemistry. Our guys respect each other for who they are and once the puck is dropped we're one team and we work for each other."
"Andrew has been one of those guys that's a real deep thinker and finds things that will bode well with what we're trying to accomplish here," Julien added. "He's heard us talk all year long about the fact that it's important not to have any weak links. So, he decided to take that theme upon himself and on that chain, I don't know if it was explained, but there's 20 links for the 20 guys that are in the lineup and it's got a padlock to it so that there are no weak links."