Keep calm and cheer on, Oilers fans. There's a new captain in ethical oil country.
Perhaps if you're an oil sands supporter you could have hoped for a better Edmonton Oilers captain than Andrew Ference. After all, Ference fancies himself quite the environmentalist. In 2009, Ference was one of 50 "prominent Canadians" (among them then-NDP leader Jack Layton and Green Party leader Elizabeth May) to sign an open letter to US President Barack Obama urging him to take a stand with the Canadian government against the oil sands.
Ference also spearheaded a push to get the NHLPA to buy into carbon offset plans, which the players' union eventually did. In doing so the NHLPA plunged itself into one of the most scam-riddled sectors of the so-called green economy.
So perhaps oil sands supporters would have preferred a different player for Oilers captain. But, then again, that isn't what matters in hockey.
What matters in hockey isn't what happens in Fort McMurray, or what happens when enviornmentalists have a near-riot on the White House lawn. What matters is what happens on the ice. If Andrew Ference is the best player to contribute to winning on the ice, then he should be Oilers captain, regardless of his politics.
Perhaps if he treats the Oilers captaincy as some sort of soapbox from which he can crusade against the oil sands, that would be a different matter. But he hasn't done that yet, and I personally believe he's too good a professional to do something so unprofessional.
And then, of course, there's the delicious irony of Ference cashing a regular paycheque from the Edmonton Oilers while one of the team's primary sponsors is Cenovus Energy -- the very same company airing the "a different oil sands" ads you've probably seen on TV.
So keep calm and cheer on, oil sands fans. Andrew Ference clearly wasn't that serious about his oil sands opposition, and has just stepped up to become one of the industry's outstanding spokesmen.