Just because April 22nd has come and gone, it doesn’t mean that we’ve met our planet-caring quota for the year. Boston Bruin Andrew Ference – the self-described nature “geek”
responsible for greening the NHL and the star of Nat Geo TV’s new web series, “Beyond the Puck” – stopped by the Traveler offices (along with team captain and friend Zdeno Chara) to meet with our staff. I asked him to tell us about his favorite travel spots and how he tries to make Earth Day, every day — on and off the ice. Here’s what he had to say.
Leslie Trew Magraw: You helped establish the NHL Players Association’s Carbon Neutral Challenge, pro-hockey’s first major environmental initiative. Who or what inspired you?
Andrew Ference: It really started with [Canadian environmentalist] David Suzuki, about 7 years ago. At the time I was playing hockey in Canada and had quite the soapbox up there. He wanted me to stand for something good publicly, so, since I was already going carbon neutral at home, he urged me to incorporate that into my playing. Even on the road throughout the season we try to hunt down the organic restaurants and support them as much as possible. It makes for a better experience anyways.
LTM: Are you proud of the work you’ve been able to do in the NHL?
AF: I’m proud to see the league take a real turn over the last five or six years. The league and a lot of its owners and arenas went from doing next to nothing to being — I think they are — the best major sport in terms of tackling environmental issues. Whether it’s energy consumption and food sourcing in the buildings, or getting involved in a major water restoration program in the Pacific Northwest, they’re going the extra mile and really making an effort. I think that was really helped by the players carrying the flag and pushing them to do something. Players going carbon neutral doesn’t really do a lot on its own, but to see our example inspire fans and arenas — that does a lot.
LTM: You grew up in Canada. What’s your favorite spot in your home country?
AF: The Great Bear Rainforest near the Haida Gwaii. If humans weren’t here that’s what we would have. It’s about a two-hour flight from Vancouver, straight north up the coast. They have some great salmon fishing there and the place is just packed with whales and bald eagles and spirit bears. We got to see seven or eight humpbacks all coming up at the same time through the bubbles to feed. It really blew me away. The drive from Lake Louise to Jasper through Icefields Parkway is pretty amazing, too.
LTM: You’ve played for several different teams over the years. Which has been your favorite?
AF: Boston, for sure. It’s been my favorite place to live as well.
LTM: Where’s your favorite place to play when you’re on the road?
AF: New York, because there’s so much to see and [because there are so many] great restaurants. All we really get to do on the road is land, eat, go to sleep, and go play hockey, so good restaurants are pretty high on the list. But as far as an arena and an atmosphere, Montreal is a fantastic place because the Boston and Montreal rivalry is so incredible. There are some pretty heated games and knowledgeable fans, as well.
LTM: Where would you go if you could go anywhere in the world?
AF: I’ve been fixated on Bhutan for a few years now. You can’t find a McDonald’s there. They’re getting more and more open, but they’ve really locked it down. I feel like it’s one of the last untouched spots.