Ference’s gesture draws a fine

By Barbara Matson
Globe Correspondent / April 23, 2011

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Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference was fined $2,500 by the NHL yesterday for making an obscene gesture during Game 4 at the Bell Centre in Montreal Thursday.

At 9:59 of the second period, Ference scored his first goal of the playoffs, drawing the Bruins within 3-2. After launching his shot from the middle of the Canadiens zone past goalie Carey Price, Ference swung around and pumped his gloved fist toward the crowd, his middle finger sticking up.

After the game, Ference said he was only pumping his fist in celebration. Just an accidental bird. He repeated that explanation to NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy yesterday morning, but Murphy apparently wasn’t buying it.

“Like I told them, it was an unintentional [gesture],’’ Ference said yesterday, after most of the team went through off-ice workouts at TD Garden. “I’m not giving anybody the bird or anything like that. It was unintentional.

“I obviously apologize for it. I didn’t mean to insult anybody, especially a whole row of cameras at the Bell Centre and the fans sitting there. It was definitely not the intention.

“[Murphy] said that it looks awful, obviously, and with this series, the whole year, and how it is between the Habs and the Bruins, the fine was acceptable.’’

The fine money will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said he supported Ference.

“I think he’s been pretty open as to what he thinks of the situation,’’ said Julien. “His comments were pretty clear and I’m going to support my player. I think he’s a big boy, he’s capable of handling himself, and he’s giving money to charity.’’

Thomas a finalist
Boston’s Tim Thomas was announced yesterday as one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender , along with Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne.

“I’m very happy to hear that,’’ said Thomas, whose picaresque journey through the NHL took another turn last season when he lost his starting job to youngster Tuukka Rask. “After last year, I wasn’t quite sure if I’d ever hear that again, so I’m obviously happy.’’

Thomas bounced back big this season. After reclaiming the No. 1 job, he went 35-11-9 in 57 games, with a goals-against average of 2.00. He also set an NHL record for save percentage with a mark of .938 — bettering Dominik Hasek’s .937 from 1998-99 — and set a career high with nine shutouts.

But even if the 37-year-old takes home his second Vezina, there will be no backyard barbecues with it in his hometown of Flint, Mich., this summer, no laughing kids running circles around the big trophy. There will be no Vermont picnics with fried chicken piled high in the Vezina bowl. None of Thomas’s children will be tubing across the lake on top of the Vezina.

Unlike the Stanley Cup, the Vezina Trophy doesn’t travel. On the evening of the NHL Awards Ceremony, the trophy is presented to the winner, then whisked away.

Thomas, who also won the Vezina for the 2008-09 season, remembers getting a brief look at the names engraved on trophy.

“I was pretty amazed actually when you get to see the trophy,’’ he said. “Actually, the only time you get to see it is there.

“They had it here once, too, in the arena, but you didn’t get to take it home at all. Afterwards, we were taking pictures with it, but you don’t get that much of a chance to study the names, but you look down there and . . . Jacques Plante, Marty Brodeur, there’s huge names on there. When I saw all the names, it kicked in a little bit more what an honor it was to win it that year.’’

The timing of the announcement could be seen a distraction, with the Bruins scratching it out with the Canadiens in the first round, but Thomas dismissed that.

“It’s an honor, and I could talk about it right now, but my focus will immediately go back to the playoff series,’’ he said. “I won’t be thinking about the Vezina later today.’’

“Everybody in this room knows we owe him a lot,’’ said Ference. “We have an MVP jacket [for each game] and he’d hog it the whole time if we didn’t try and pass it around the room.’’

P-Bruins make move
Earlier this week, the Bruins made official they will not be renewing the contract of Providence coach Rob Murray. Providence missed the playoffs for the second straight year, going 38-36-6 this season.

Murray was formerly Providence’s assistant coach when Scott Gordon held the top job. Murray took over the bench in 2008-09 after Gordon was hired by the Islanders. Murray concluded his Providence coaching career with a 117-103-20 record. The Bruins have offered Murray a scouting position within the organization.

Bruce Cassidy, Murray’s assistant, is a candidate to take over the head coaching position. Cassidy, once the Washington Capitals head coach, had been Murray’s right-hand man the last three seasons.

Not listening
The Rich Peverley-Michael Ryder-Chris Kelly line has been making lots of noise in the last two games, including a pair of goals from Ryder in Game 4. Ryder sat a few games late in the season as a healthy scratch, in favor of Tyler Seguin, and Julien was asked if he felt happy that Ryder showed up his detractors, especially those on radio shows. “No. 1, I don’t listen, and I don’t hear,’’ said Julien, “so it’s not an easy thing to comment on things I guess are being said. We have to do what we have to do as a team here and we believe in the roster that we have right now.’’ . . . Because of a forecast for inclement weather, today’s Fan Fest outside TD Garden has been canceled.

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