Three days after Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins joined a pre-dawn fitness “flash mob” led by Andrew Ference the veteran defenceman skated through his coach’s baseline endurance test Wednesday with the rest of his teammates as training camp began at Millennium Place.

“His was good” the 34-year-old Ference said of the high-tech stops-and-starts session that Eakins a first-year NHL head man opened camp with. “I think his excludes a lot of people that mine doesn’t.”

Ference scores high on the core value of inclusion whether it’s leading average citizens in early-morning stair runs doing pushups and jumping jacks educating other NHL players in how to minimize their carbon footprint or being part of a cohesive successful and professional hockey team.

It’s a key reason he is one of a cluster of strong candidates — including Taylor Hall Jordan Eberle and Sam Gagner — for the Oilers captaincy which was vacated when longtime captain Shawn Horcoff was traded to the Dallas Stars in the off-season. Not that he’s fixated on that outcome.

“You spend enough time on successful teams you realize that it’s an honour to have letters on your jersey but — it sounds a bit clichéd — it’s a group leadership thing that successful teams have” Ference said. “Never should that elevate you to a different level of having more of a voice in the room or your opinion being any more important.