BOSTON — It had been more than six months since Marc Savard stepped onto the ice for a game. For the last half of a year, when Savard’s name was brought up, it was followed with the dreaded words “post-concussion syndrome,” or “neurological test,” or something equally as daunting.
But tonight was different, stepping out onto the ice was special.
And it wasn’t just because goaltender Tim Thomas stepped aside for Savvy to be the first on the ice for pregame warm-ups.
“I didn’t know what he was doing there,” Savard said. “I didn’t realize. I just thought he was stepping aside, that’s maybe what he does now. I just kept skating, then I looked over and no one was there, so it was kind of nice of the guys, I think they did that on purpose, but it was funny.”
“It was just a couple of minutes before we went out and it was just a joke,” Thomas said. “Hopefully it helped Savvy relax a little bit because you’re probably nervous after a long time like that and that was hopefully a way to get the jitters out.”
While that calmed the nerves a little bit, the first real moment was the first time Savard stepped onto the ice during his first shift of the game. He stepped over the boards, and the place erupted for him. The play brought Savard to the circle for his first faceoff this season, and the emotions ran high and the crowd to its feet. But for Savard, the simple faceoff could have been one of the toughest draws to take this season.
“I got a little emotional there,” Savard said. “It was a little tough to go out on that shift there, but it was special.”
Funny part is, he didn’t end up taking the faceoff–he was kicked out of the circle before the puck was dropped.
“I think I got excited,” he said. “I felt like I had water in my eyes. I couldn’t see anyways, so I tried to, I don’t know, maybe I just jumped the gun a little early, but the crowd gave them a nice boo, so that was pretty neat.”
Though Savard couldn’t muster a point out of this game (despite even Thomas taking an assist in the 8-1 victory over the Lightning), this game was more about coming out and feeling comfortable with his teammates, his skates, the ice and the fans. Savard mentioned that he really hoped he would make his debut in front of the Boston fans because of the support they have showed him through his injury.
“After the pregame skate, I talked to Peter [Chiarelli] and Claude [Julien] and they gave me the green light,” Savard said. “I obviously didn’t sleep much today. I tried not to talk around the room when I got here, but I felt like I was just flying around the room, kind of burning energy that I didn’t want to burn, but I was just so excited. I felt like a little kid again. It was great.”
Though Savard did mention some moments where he felt “a little tired,” he said overall he felt strong and enjoyed the night as a whole with almost 16 minutes of ice time alongside Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder.
According to Julien, the affects of Savard go beyond that of the score sheet. When asked about the differences Savard makes on the bench, Julien said, “I don’t know if I can answer this properly, but I know that he usually leads the way when it comes to chirping. He does talk a lot on the bench and that’s what you want. You want guys who are involved in the game whether they’re on the ice or on the bench.”
The Bruins head out to Toronto to faceoff against the Maple Leafs on Saturday and Savard will be in the lineup–music to every Bruins fans ears, as well as his own–a perfect way to start the season.
“I was kind of really hoping that I played today because I wanted to play in front of the fans,” Savard said. “Like I said, they’ve been great to me. It ended up being perfect for myself.”