Haggerty: Savard should consider calling it a career

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Haggerty: Savard should consider calling it a career

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

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.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Chara on slumping Bruins: Players shouldn't have to be told to work hard

Chara on slumping Bruins: Players shouldn't have to be told to work hard

BRIGHTON -- The on-ice portion of Bruins practice kicked off about an hour later than scheduled at Warrior Ice Arena on Monday morning.

The B's are reeling, having lost four games in a row for the first time this season after getting dumped by the Penguins, 5-1, in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon. Their standing in the Atlantic Division, and the playoff picture, is tenuous at best with so many other teams holding games in hand over them, and it truly looks like they're going to slide out of the race if they can’t reverse their fortunes.

So Claude Julien, saying "desperate times call for desperate measures," summoned the players to a video session where flaws, mistakes, half-hearted efforts and bad systems-play was pointed out in front of everyone. The team then took the ice to iron out those problems in an hour-long practice that the embattled Bruins coach hopes will lead to better results in the final two games, against Detroit and Pittsburgh, before the All-Star break.

“He was showing details that we were doing well early on in the season to have success, and little things that we’ve gotten away from that we need to correct,” said captain Zdeno Chara. “We need to start doing them again. It’s a game of little details and we need to make sure we do them right.”

While Chara wouldn’t comment on the tone of the video session, it’s clear that things like effort, determination and desperation were probably talking points just as much as fine-tuning Julien’s long-held offensive and defensive systems.

“It’s commitment," said Chara. "That’s for sure, that we need to have everybody doing that. We shouldn’t . . . at this level, at this time of the season, [have to be] asking guys to work hard. We’ve got to make sure that everybody is working hard, and everybody is paying his dues to be in the lineup and earn a spot.

“That’s the No. 1 priority: You have to compete and you have to work hard. Usually when you do those things, good things happen. We’ve got to back to those little things [with] hard work, commitment and competing every shift.”

Will an honest, direct video session between head coach and players be the key to stopping the team’s most demoralizing stretch of the season, and lead to a prolonged winning streak? Only time will tell.

But the Bruins need something to get spinning in an entirely different direction. 

Monday, Jan. 23: Yandle endorses Coyotes

Monday, Jan. 23: Yandle endorses Coyotes

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while sorting through all the Bruins-related alternative facts out there.

*Matthew Tkachuk is having some disagreements with his parents about his mouth-guard usage with the Calgary Flames.

*Former Yotes D-man Keith Yandle says that the Arizona Coyotes “know what they’re doing” despite their decent to the cellar in the Western Conference.

*Insights on every goaltending situation in the NHL from the crack ESPN.com staff breaking down the fantasy rankings.

*The struggles continue for the Tampa Bay Lightning as they can’t seem to gain any traction in the Atlantic Division.

*Wayne Simmonds took the blame for a late penalty that led to Philly’s undoing as they battle for playoff position in the East.

*Sounds like Patrik Laine might be nearing a return to the lineup, and that’s a very good thing for the Winnipeg Jets.

*For something completely different: We have a title for the next Star Wars film. It’s going to be called “The Last Jedi.”