By Allan Muir
It has to be tough for Andrew Ference to leave Boston. During his seven-season run, the popular defender planted roots not only in the Bruins organization, but around the community.
One of his earliest friendships was with Staff Sergeant Lucas Carr of the U.S. Army Rangers, an elite infantry unit. And out of that friendship came a gift that became the symbol of effort and sacrifice for the Bruins during their 2013 run to the Stanley Cup Final: the Ranger jacket.
From the Boston Herald:
Throughout the  Cup run, Ference kept in touch with a group of Rangers. He received pictures from Afghanistan of forces proudly waving a Bruins flag, and was told tales of how they’d come back from battle eager to watch the games.
To show his support, Ference wore an Army Rangers T-shirt throughout those playoffs. That summer, he was invited to Fort Benning in Georgia, touring the base and going to both a graduation ceremony and sniper school.
The Rangers put a picture of the Bruins winning the Cup in their hall of fame, and gave Ference the [Ranger] jacket.
After every game, it was given to the player who stepped up the most, who faced the challenge head on and bested it. It became an important symbol, something the honored player wore in postgame interviews, displaying the respect he'd earned from his teammates.
When the 2013 season ended, heartbreakingly, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, it was the last game that Ference would play for the Bruins. But before he left for his new start in Edmonton, he had the honor of presenting the jacket one last time.
It looks like he found the right guy.
The kid in the picture? That's Matt Brown, a former Norwood (MA) High School hockey player who was paralyzed from the chest down after suffering a spinal injury in a 2010 game.
His courage in the face of this devastating challenge has inspired thousands in the hockey ommunity, from the members to his former team to pros like Ference. The two have become friends over the years. Ference even brought the Stanley Cup to the Brown family home for a Labor Day party.
Ference returned to the Brown's on Thursday to spend some time with Matt and present him with the jacket.