What was a big deal at the time — an emotional, controversial, “obscene” moment that occurred early in the Boston Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup run — has since been downgraded to a footnote affixed to the nastiness that so often colours an NHL playoff series, first rounds, it seems, especially.
But an ugly spur-of-the-moment gesture has weighed on the mind of at least one man. So on Tuesday, more than a year after the fact, Andrew Ference came clean in effort to make a point about accountability.
Zip back to Game 4 of the Bruins-Montreal Canadiens opening series of the 2011 postseason. Bruins defenceman Ference cuts the hometown Habs’ lead to 3-2 to two in the second period, slapping a rolling puck in the high slot to beat Carey Price’s glove.
He then spins ’round and coasts towards the glass and the Montreal faithful, his exuberant fist-pump accented by an extended middle glove finger. (The third “Ferknuckle” from the left, for those of you who follow the player on Twitter.)
Though at the time Ference defended his flipping of the bird towards Habs fans, claiming a glove malfunction, he was dealt a game misconduct and a $2,500 fine from the NHL for unleashing an obscene gesture.
“I can assure you, that’s not part of my repertoire. I don’t know if my glove got caught up, but I can assure you, that’s not part of who I am,” he told reporters after that game. “It looks awful, I admit it. I completely apologize as to how it looks, but you guys have covered me long enough to know that’s not part of my repertoire. I was putting my fist in the air.”
Flash back to Tuesday, and Ference, in his debut blog for The Good Men Project, admitted what most (with the possible exception of Super Bowl performer Janet Jackson) suspected to be the truth all along: He did indeed reveal a middle finger to the crowd.
In a piece titled “Things I Have Learned #1,” Ference writes:
“Accountability is lacking in our world. Just look at nuisance lawsuits, or the finger-pointing of politicians around the globe. I am guilty myself of trying to blame a middle-fingered celebration after a goal in Montreal on a glove malfunction. In round one of the playoffs between two of the fiercest rivals in our sport, I scored a tying goal in the enemy’s building, only to have my fist pump turn into a sign language that crosses all borders. Facing the media and a possible suspension after the fact proved to be too much for my self-accountability. Self-preservation is a powerful thing … it is easier to place blame elsewhere and overlook your own responsibilities.”
While cynics will point a finger back in Ference’s direction and claim (rightfully so) that it’s easier to admit your mistake with the consequences in the rearview and a Stanley Cup ring on your errant digit, good on him for admitting his mistake.
We all make ’em. They’re just not televised.
Ference could have just as easily taken his lie to the grave, and it serves him no real purpose – besides a clear conscience – to come clean.
Yes, his confession is way late, but he sets a great example for the kids who idolize these pros.