Andrew Ference has long been known for his commitment to environmental causes. The Canadian defender has been a staunch advocate of all-electric vehicle (EV) ownership and other forms of green living. In 2018, Ference was hired to be the NHL’s first Director of Social Impact, Growth, and Fan Development, a position that will allow him to continue his environmental advocacy.

Ference first became cognizant of the negative environmental effects that professional sports teams can have on the environment in 2003. In a series of conversations with prominent environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki, Andrew began to realize the potential he had to make a difference. In a 2009 interview with Samaritan Mag, Ference explained, “He was really the one who pushed me to use my voice as a hockey player and the exposure we get on a public stage. Hockey only lasts so long and while you have the opportunity to represent something, why not make it something very positive?”

Suzuki suggested that Ference introduce the concept of “carbon neutrality” to his fellow teammates in order to offset the damage to the environment that their extensive travels are responsible for. In 2008, he established the Carbon Neutral Challenge in conjunction with the NHL player’s association.

“By going carbon neutral, one person might not make that much of a difference, but with over 500 guys doing it across the NHL, that‘s part of a real solution. The Carbon Neutral Challenge is part of a greater philosophy of trying to do the right thing, but it’s the public arm of trying to live green.”  Ference explained.

Largely due to Ference’s influence, the NHL is now ranked 20th on the EPA’s National Top 100 list of largest users of green power in the United States. The NHL has even commissioned a series of all-electric Zamboni machines! In addition to his influence on the company, Ference also managed to convince other players in the league to purchase clean vehicles. According to the NHL Player’s Association, Scott Niedermayer, Matt Bradley, and Willie Mitchell were all moved to buy cleaner cars.

Ference’s new gig will require him to connect with communities through grassroots efforts. He will also be responsible to attracting new fans to the NHL that may not currently follow the game.

“It’s going to go a lot of different ways over the next few years, but at the base of it will be how do we get more people involved with hockey,” Ference recently told NHL staff writer Jon Lane. “How do we actively promote the great culture this game is? My goal is not to make people love hockey just by entertaining them. I’d like to try to introduce people to hockey and the culture of hockey, the things that I have experienced, by picking up a stick and creating those memories with friends and falling in love with the game.”

We here at thank Andrew for his advocacy over the years and wish him nothing but success in his new role!

What do our readers think about Andrew Ference and his efforts? Are there any other NHL players that deserve praise for their contributions to the environment? Please leave us a comment below and let us know.

Source | Image: Wikimedia Commons