The night was March 7, 2010.
The Boston Bruins traveled to Pittsburgh to play a regular season game against the Penguins. In what turned out to be a highly-contested game with some good goals and solid goaltending, this game was remembered for something else.
With just over five minutes remaining in the third period, Bruins’ forward Milan Lucic intercepted the puck and found a wide open Marc Savard at the top of the slot. As he released a one-time shot, Penguins’ forward Matt Cooke skated across the ice and drove his elbow into the head of a defenseless Savard.
There was no penalty or suspension issued as a result of the hit. Savard suffered a Grade 2 concussion, an injury that altered the career of a very talented hockey player.
Savard missed two months of action, but returned for the Eastern Conference Semi-Final series against the Philadelphia Flyers. He began the 2011 season on the injured reserve list as he was still suffering from post-concussion syndrome.
He made a brief return during that season, but after suffering another concussion at the hands of Colorado Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick, Savard has yet to play in another game. Hunwick, a former Bruin, ironically was on the ice for Boston when Savard suffered his first concussion from the Cooke hit.
Many fans have been wondering what the status of his injury is and when “Savvy” will be able to lace up the skates again.
On Monday, Savard sent out a message via his Twitter account saying that he will most likely be out for this season and beyond: “For the fans that keep asking, there is no comeback in the foreseeable future. I miss the game. It has given me everything I have today.”
Savard has played in 807 combined games for four teams during his 13 year NHL career. He recorded 207 goals and 499 assists for 706 points.
He is signed with the Bruins through the 2016-17 season. His $4 million salary will not count against the cap if the Bruins decide to put him on injured reserve. However, he will still continue to get paid what he is owed on his contract until he officially retires.
Savard was one of the top players in the league prior to his concussion issues. A skilled playmaker and a general on the power play, he instantly made the Black and Gold a better team when he came to Boston in 2006 via free agency
After his injury, the NHL took the initiative in designating rules to strictly prohibit targeted head shots. It is a shame that it came at the expense of Savard, but the NHL is now a much safer game because of the new rules that have been implemented.
Whether Savard returns to the ice or not, he said he will give back to the game by volunteering his time to help coach youth hockey and mentor young players in the OHL.