|One of many hard hits at TD Garden yesterday: The Rangers’ Brian Boyle rattles Milan Lucic. (Barry Chin/Globe Staff)|
Career on hold, Savard says he’s happy
Like any pro athlete who didn’t get to write his own ending, Marc Savard remains hopeful that his days as a player are not over.
Savard, however, is a realist. He remains addled by headaches, memory loss, and grogginess in the mornings, although he is free of the depression he suffered in the summer of 2011.
Savard is 34, exactly a year removed from appearing in his last NHL game as a Bruin. Given the precariousness of his health, there is no doctor who would clear him for NHL action even if his symptoms waned.
“When I sit back and look at it right now, if I don’t ever play again, I’m happy,’’ Savard said. “I’m on the Stanley Cup. I got a ring. Lot of credit to [general manager] Peter Chiarelli and the organization for doing that for me. That was unexpected.
“I had a decent career if I don’t play again. I enjoy what I’m doing right now.’’
Yesterday, Savard was on hand at TD Garden to greet visitors to the suite he purchased through 2013-14 for pediatric students at Children’s Hospital who have suffered head injuries. Savard understands their plight as well as anyone.
He experiences regular headaches, especially amid changing weather conditions. He is walking and has tried biking, but he has not been able to go through any other physical activity. As such, Savard appears heavier than in his playing days.
“The way I’m still feeling and the daily issues I’m having, it’s tough to see a bright future right now,’’ Savard said. “It’s tough. I still have my tough days.’’
Savard suffered concussions in the NHL and junior hockey. But his real troubles started on March 7, 2010, when Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke clobbered him with a blind-side hit to the head.
Cooke was neither penalized nor suspended for the hit. However, the incident was one of the precursors to Rule 48, which led to the current iteration of making checks to the head illegal. The rule will be one of Savard’s legacies.
“Maybe it just needs to be 10 games or more,’’ Savard said. “If you do it, you just know you’re getting 10 games. It’s in black and white.’’
Savard returned on Dec. 2, 2010, and on Jan. 15, 2011, Pittsburgh’s Deryk Engelland checked him, causing the center’s head to rattle off the glass. Four games later, on Jan. 22, former teammate Matt Hunwick hit Savard. He has not played since, nor is he expected to do so.
“I want to get back and play,’’ Savard said. “But at the end of the day, I know, if I possibly got hit again, what could happen.’’
Despite his situation, Savard is not expected to retire. He is on the Bruins’ books through 2016-17 at an annual cap hit of $4,007,143, and if he retires, he would not be eligible to collect his remaining salary.
The Bruins are currently carrying Savard’s number toward their cap hit, even though he is a nonroster player. If they want to make moves prior to the Feb. 27 trade deadline, they can place Savard on long-term injured reserve and exceed the cap by his number.
Savard most likely will be declared unfit to play prior to the start of each season remaining on his contract. Even though he is helping with his son’s team, Savard good-naturedly said he has no desire to be an NHL coach.
“I’m happy right now,’’ he said. “I’m really happy. I’ve got no issues on the depression side. I’m around my kids every day, taking them to school, helping coaching.
“I’m really enjoying life. I’m really happy, and happy to be here today. I don’t have any hard feelings about anything.’’
At 2:44 of yesterday’s second period, with the Bruins trailing, 1-0, Shawn Thornton asked New York’s Mike Rupp if he cared to fight. Rupp accepted, and the two engaged in an even dustup that saw Thornton rally late in the scrap. “We’ve fought a few times,’’ Thornton said. “I like the way he plays the game. He’s a very honest, hard player. I thought it was a good time for it.’’ Forty-four seconds later, with the rink still buzzing, Andrew Ference tied the score. “I think Andy made me look good by getting a goal,’’ Thornton said.
Letter delivered to Kelly
Chris Kelly was the second alternate captain yesterday. Ference had worn the second “A’’ at home for the first half of the season, while Kelly was the road alternate. Kelly will sport the second “A’’ at the Garden for the rest of the year . . . The Bruins hustled to Hanscom Airport following yesterday’s loss. They will play the Flyers this afternoon in Philadelphia, then travel by train to Washington. “We go to Philly, get on the plane, and forget about it,’’ Thornton said of the loss. “We focus on Philly now.’’ . . . New York’s Ryan Callahan and Brad Richards led all players with six shots apiece . . . Defenseman Zdeno Chara played a season-high 32:19 . . . Defenseman Steven Kampfer was recalled from Providence before the game. He and center Zach Hamill were the healthy scratches . . . Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg appeared in the 500th game of his career.