Marc Savard insists hes happy, hes watching his kids grow up as hockey players in Peterborough and day-to-day life is manageable.
All of that is encouraging news, but No. 91 also frankly admitted its tough to see a bright future when it comes to his NHL playing career in his current state. Savard admitted he still wades his way through post-concussion syndrome symptoms like memory loss and headaches, and routinely forgets his phone at home or leaves his car keys in the ignition after exiting the vehicle.
Despite all of that hes overcome the feelings of depression and sounds very much like a man moving on with his life with or without hockey.
Im doing good. Im feeling better. I have my days still, but Im doing a lot better. Im happy, said Savard. Im with my family and my kids, and going to watch them play hockey. Im getting a while different side of life.
I do feel really good just being in the building today. Im excited to be back. I miss being out there, thats for sure. But just being around the crowd and the atmosphere is going to be nice.
Savard didnt smile much or show his normally chirpy personality during his lengthy 10 plus minute meeting with reporters prior to Saturday afternoons BruinsRangers matinee at TD Garden. But the mere sight of the Bs fallen center at his second hockey home in Boston is cause for good news.
Savard will today host a group of pediatric Childrens Hospital patients battling through head trauma and their families in a suite hes sponsoring all of this season and the entire 2012-13 season.
The charitable endeavor convinced Savard to make his first trip to Boston this year, and hell be a more frequent visitor in the coming years regardless of whether he ever dons the Bruins sweater again.
I know what Ive gone through and what Ive been going through lately. At this present time Id like to do something for Boston because theyve been so great to me, said Savard, who hoped to drop into the Garden for games a few times per season when he was feeling up to it. I just felt that I know what these kids are going through in some of these departments. I just saw that this was something minor I could do to put a smile on their faces.
The center hasnt returned in almost exactly a calendar year when he took perhaps his final hit in the NHL from Matt Hunwick that caused him to bang his head into the dasher. Savard left the ice immediately after the hit, and has suffered through headaches and memory loss associated with the injuries ever since. It hasnt been an easy road, and its got to be difficult living as a cautionary tale as Savard is with the danger of concussions.
The way Im feeling and the daily issues Im having, its tough to see a bright future right now to be honest with you, admitted Savard. Its tough. I still have my tough days that I want to get back and play.
But at the end of the day I know that I could possibly get hit in the head again and what could happen. Im still hoping that something happens and I feel a lot better, but if I feel like this I still couldnt play.
The severity of Savards symptoms make it difficult to envision a return to the Bruins as an active player, and even Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien have spoken in terms of his career likely being over. While the Hunwick hit was the final straw, it was a blind side elbow from Matt Cooke two years ago that affected Savards career path permanently. Cookes cheap shot has forced No. 91 into a reluctant role as one of the most ardent spokesmen for severe head shot penalties in hockey.
Savard hopes for much steeper penalties that would even make things that much easier for both the players and NHL disciplinarians. Certain on-ice crimes come with certain levels of suspensions, and there would be little gray area in Savards world of supplementary discipline.
I think the league has done a great job. At the end of the day Brendan Shanahan has done a wonderful job. I think about this head shot rule, Rule 48 or whatever its called, and maybe it just needs to be 10 games or more, said Savard. If you do it you just know that youre getting 10 games. Its in black and white. I almost think a lot of the rules should go that way.
It sounds like Savard has been doing quite a bit of thinking about ways to improve player safety in the world of the NHL, and perhaps keep other players from going through the same personal struggle he has gone through. The center has come out on the other side through the support of those that care about him.
Savard wants to be one of the last of the cautionary tales around the league when it comes to career-ending concussions.