Brad Ference was a 10th overall draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks in the 1997 NHL draft.
He never played for the Canucks as he was traded to Flordia Panthers before he graduated from junior. The trade was an absolute blockbuster as Ference was moved with none other than Pavel Bure, Bret Hedican and a draft choice for Ed Jovanovski, Dave Gagner, Mike Brown, Kevin Weekes and a draft choice.
It was a good move for Ference as he was able to find a home in Florida. After a couple of seasons shuffling between the minor leagues and the NHL, Ference became a regular blueliner in 2001. He would play two seasons in Florida and another season in Phoenix before disappearing to the minor leagues following the 2005 lockout.
Ference (no relation to Andrew Ference) was quick to credit Bret Hedican with helping him achieve NHL success.
"There's been a lot of people help me over the years but if you talk about playing in the NHL, I'd say Bret has helped me more than anyone," the Calgary born Ference said. "He's always talked to me a lot and gave me solid advice."
"He's taught me there are times when you have to listen to people and coaches and other times when you have to learn things for yourself and how to tell the difference
As his penalty minute totals attest, Ference loved to play the physical game. He worked the boards and front of the net with enthusiasm, despite being famously lean and lanky.
"I've come a long way from the 175 pound kid who showed up at that first camp," he admitted. "I had so much to learn about training and nutrition and how to keep weight on. In junior you couldn't control when and what you ate and I hadn't discovered protein shakes and other supplements. The weight is pretty good now but it's been a battle."
With a career four goals and 34 points in 250 career games, the right shooting Ference did not offer a lot of offense. He was an average skater who lacked speed and mobility. He learned strong positional play to become an effective NHL player.
Brad retired to Calgary where he became a firefighter.