BOSTON – Since he suffered a Grade 2 concussion as a result of a blindside hit to the head from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke March 7, Bruins center Marc Savard hasn’t been able to watch his team’s games in their entirety because of his post-concussion symptoms.
However, that doesn’t mean he has taken his finger off the pulse of his club.
“I just want to get well. Obviously, I’d like to get back and help my team – especially on the power play – but I’m not looking at it right now like that,” Savard said during his first address to the media since the hit this morning at TD Garden. “I just want to get healthy.”
The Bruins’ power play could certainly use a return by their star playmaker. Playing again this season, however, is still a long shot for Savard, who said he still doesn’t feel himself and doesn’t remember the hit that took place. Just getting outside the house and doing normal everyday things can be a struggle.
“I’m just trying to feel normal again right now, and I don’t feel that way. I’ve had better days, but I still have some bad days in the middle of them,” said Savard, who noted he had three previous minor concussions in his career. “But I’m getting outside now, getting some fresh air. I’m getting some more color back so that’s good. But I’m still not where I need to be to get back. Obviously, I miss playing hockey, I miss playing with my buddies, so hopefully it happens soon.”
Today was the first time Savard’s teammates have seen him since the hit. Even though they know he won’t be lacing up his skates any time soon, they’re looking forward to him adding to their camaraderie down the stretch.
“It helps. We’re a big family and we always want everyone in our locker room,” said winger Marco Sturm. “Like (Patrice Bergeron), when he was out, it was always great when he was in the locker room.”
A severe injury like Savard’s could cause some athletes to contemplate another line of work. But Savard said he hasn’t really considered anything except getting healthy and then returning to the Bruins. Life in the NHL should be safer now that the league, partly spurred on by Cooke’s hit on Savard, has fast-tracked a rule that allows for disciplinary action to be taken on players that target an opponent’s head with a similar blindside hits. There’s hope an in-game penalty will be instituted for such hits next season.
Even Savard is able to see that silver lining in his predicament.
“At the end of the day, I think that’s the one good thing that’s come of this so far,” the center said. “We needed a rule and … I feel strongly that we needed it in there ASAP before it happens again. So hopefully, the league and the NHLPA and whoever else needs to get it put in there gets it done as quick as possible.”
While the Bruins made headlines by not skating to Savard’s defense right after the hit, the veteran stood up for his colleagues today by pointing out that the situation Boston is in – clinging to a playoff berth – didn’t really allow for an all-out retaliation. He commended teammate Shawn Thornton for standing up to Cooke in a rematch between the teams last week, and pointed out that down the road there might be an opportunity for more of the score to be settled.
When Cooke was in Boston for that game, he said he has tried to reach out to Savard and let him know he meant no harm. Savard explained that he’s not in the mood for that interaction to happen.
“He’s tried. I guess he’s tried to get my phone number and stuff like that,” said Savard. “But from what happened, I really don’t right at the moment have an interest in talking to him. That’s just how I feel. Maybe down the road. But right now, I’m not feeling any better so I’d rather not talk to him.”
The Bruins are holding out hope Savard can get back on the ice before the curtain falls on 2009-1. It might take a lengthy playoff run for that to happen.
“We can only stand here and hope,” said head coach Claude Julien. “The longer we go, the more hope there is. Obviously our team would like to be a part of that second season and have an opportunity to have him back at some point.”
At least Savard has made steps in the right direction and should be there for his teammates even if he can’t aid their on-ice cause.