After almost two decades in the NHL, veteran defenseman Andrew Ference says he is prepared for life after hockey and that he will likely retire if the Edmonton Oilers buy out his contract after the season.
"I think that's it for me," Ference told ESPN.com in a phone interview Friday morning. "More than likely [the Oilers] will probably buy me out this summer, and we'll probably part ways. That's it."
Ference, 36, was placed on injured reserve in January and is planning to have hip surgery to repair a torn labrum. He has been limited to six games this season and last played Nov. 27 at Detroit.
"Nothing is written in stone yet, but surgery is probably 95 percent that I'm getting it. All the other stuff, you can read between the lines. I've been around long enough," Ference said with a chuckle.
Ference signed with the Oilers as a free agent in July 2013 and served as team captain until this season. His current contract, with a cap hit of $3.25 million, expires after the 2016-17 season.
Originally selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the eighth round of the 1997 NHL draft, Ference also played for the Calgary Flames and Boston Bruins, winning the Stanley Cup with Boston in 2010-11 and making two other finals appearances.
Because his name is etched into the Stanley Cup, Ference said it makes the decision to step away from the game a lot easier.
"I would have a completely different mindset if I never won the Cup," he said. "I always would have been really bitter, losing in Calgary. When you lose, you never get over it until you actually win. It's awful, but since we won in Boston, everything else is cream on top."
Ference has 43 goals and 182 assists in 907 career NHL games.
"I've been blessed -- 100 percent," he said. "I've always said it takes a ton of hard work, but you need a huge boatload of good luck and good timing. I feel like I've had that. You think about the different kinds of trades you've been through and landing on certain teams where it just works. Everything, from the moment I got drafted by Pittsburgh and there are injuries and I get my chance to play, going to Calgary and getting to the finals, and the same with Boston and having a good team there. I've been so fortunate to be on good teams and be a part of really amazing experiences.
"You work hard and do your part, but there are so many other factors that you have no control over. It works out for some guys and don't work out for others. I never lost sight of that, and I'm so lucky to have that stuff in my career."
A longtime environmentalist, Ference will finish school this spring after studying corporate sustainability from the Harvard Extension School. He is also a partner in a couple of venture capital startups in Edmonton and Boston.
"Finishing and seeing the end in sight but having other interests in life has been so key," Ference said of his decision to move on from hockey. "I try to preach that to all those young guys, like have other interests and get involved in other stuff because it makes this transition a lot easier and have confidence going into the next phase of your life without spinning your wheels, wondering what the hell you're going to do with yourself."