BOSTON I bumped into a doctor friend on Wednesday afternoon, and he had a simple message for me to pass along.
If you run into Marc Savard, please do me a favor. Please tell him to retire while he still can.
Only the hockey gods know when Ill see Marc Savard next after he returned home to Peterborough, Ontario, this week to recover from the fourth concussion of his NHL career.
Savard proved his toughness by returning from a hellish concussion caused by a monstrously irresponsible Matt Cooke elbow last spring. The struggles Savard has gone through in returning from that cheap shot show how toothless the NHL was in making the original ruling on Cookes cowardice.
But Savard proved his toughness all over again by returning from the depths of post-concussion syndrome this fall, despite bouts of depression and anxiety that threatened to cripple the playmaking center for good.
Instead, No. 91 did what hes always done as an undersized scrapper of an assist man blessed with barely average skating speed: He battled and raged against those that doubted hed ever make it back. Its that Shrek-sized chip on Savards shoulder thats allowed him to excel in his NHL career, and it had served him well yet again.
The 33-year-old actually had made it back to 85 percent of himself in his last handful of games with the Bruins, and had posted points in four of his last five games heading into that fateful meeting last Saturday against the Avalanche.
Savard had received a warning shot just a couple of games before, when Pittsburgh defenseman Deryk Engelland drove his face and head into the corner boards at TD Garden.
But Savard managed to escape that potential car wreck with a dazed feeling in the hours following the game, and a little residual neck pain from the collision. The Bs center was sufficiently concerned that he met with doctors and underwent testing.
But things appeared okay for Savard after he bounced back from the scary incident.
He wasnt so lucky when Matt Hunwick finished a check on Savard, who was trapped in an unfortunately awkward position in the corner. And now things have come down to a simple plea from a vocal majority in the hockey community.
There have been too many cautionary tales with Eric Lindros, Pat Lafontaine, Paul Kariya, Keith Primeau and so many others that have had their NHL careers -- and their very lives and happiness -- altered by the destructive concussions perpetually looming as a threat to every hockey player.
Savard doesnt need to be a cautionary tale.
Hes made plenty of money over the years, hes been named an All-Star on multiple occasions, and he became a respected member of the hockey community in Boston as a part of some strong Bruins teams.
Savard has young children and a promising golf career that awaits when his hockey-playing days are behind him.
The Bs center simply has too much going for him to continue tempting fate that the next massive hit to his head will be the one to permanently ruin his life -- and irreparably scramble his brain into a confused mess.
The fact that Savards brain chemistry has already been altered from the Cooke hit while affecting his moods and changing his thought patterns should give him pause.
At the very least, the circumstances should push Savard toward sitting out the rest of the current hockey season while he rests and recovers at home.
Give it eight months while the Bruins sort out the rest of the current regular season and playoff run, get healed, and then give it one last try again next September when the symptoms, headaches and frightening brain fog have hopefully subsided.
Some within the Bruins may use Patrice Bergeron as an example of a player able to rebound from that second concussion within a 14-month span, but there are a few differences between Savard and Bergeron that make it a tough parallel.
Savard has had two more concussions than Bergeron in his career and Savard was 10 years older than Bergeron when he had to deal with the succession of serious head injuries.
Both of those factors make a gigantic difference and, sadly, neither of them work in Savards favor.
Nobody wants to deprive anyone of their livelihood or their passion, and hockey is most certainly that for Savard.
But nobody wants to ever see the image from Colorado again after Savards delicate head smashed off the unforgiving plexi-glass at the Pepsi Center.
The video of Savard struggling to get his feet before collapsing again and then overcome by emotion, grief and pain as he skated off the ice was enough to tie anybodys stomach into knots.
Just think how much worse it would be for Savard if theres ever a next time at this point in his career.
The answer seems pretty clear: Savard should seriously think about closing the door on his career -- and the concussions that have marred it over the last two seasons -- while he still has a choice in the matter.