Commentary

Marc Savard has Bruins' backing

Teammates stand behind forward as he is forced to cut season short

Updated: February 8, 2011, 1:43 AM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins are in the midst of a successful season, one that could have a special ending once the Stanley Cup playoffs begin two months from now.

A lot can happen before then, but one issue has been settled. The Bruins finally know they will be without the services of forward Marc Savard, who was officially shut down Monday for the remainder of the season because of post-concussion symptoms.

[+] EnlargeMarc Savard
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaMarc Savard (right) was joined by teammates Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron (far left) and Mark Recchi (back right) in announcing that his season is over because of a concussion.

While Savard, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli and team physician Peter Asnis discussed the decision to end the 33-year-old's season, a few of Savard's teammates were in attendance.

Team captain Zdeno Chara and assistant captains Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi were front and center. Coach Claude Julien gave the team the day off.

"It wasn't fun to see him here today, but me, Z and Rex felt like we had to be here to support him and show we're behind him and we're a team," Bergeron said. "I was happy to be here, but obviously, it was tough to see."

The past 11 months have been difficult for Savard. He suffered two concussions (March 7 and Jan. 22) and dealt with post-concussion syndrome both times. The decision to shut it down for the season is a wise one.

Savard's focus is on getting healthy before he can consider his future.

This latest setback is no doubt discouraging for Savard from a personal standpoint, but the fact that the Bruins could make a serious push for the Stanley Cup this season also is frustrating because he won't be able to help his teammates attempt to achieve that goal.

"It's tough right now because we have such a great hockey team and it's going to be tougher to watch," Savard said. "But I think they're going to do a great job."

The Bruins already are in the planning stages of life without Savard. Since he and forward Daniel Paille, who is serving a four-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head, are out, Chiarelli has recalled prospects Zach Hamill and Jordan Caron from Providence.

The GM also will look outside the organization for reinforcements because the Bruins are close to making this spring an interesting one for Boston hockey fans.

Meanwhile, Savard will head back home to Peterborough, Ontario.

"I'm sure Marc wants to come back, and I'm sure he wanted to come back this year," Bergeron said. "It's not easy. It's not about the money; [playing] is our passion. We love the game and we want to be out there. I'm sure he's not going to know what to do with himself. He needs to take the time, and I'm sure he's going to think about his future. He needs to get back to normal before making any decisions."

Bergeron is able to speak with authority on the subject because he experienced a similar situation during the 2007-08 season and again in 2008-09 when a pair of concussions threatened to end his career.

"It's really hard, especially when it's your friend and teammate," Bergeron said. "I know what it's like because I've been through it. It's not easy. It's hard. Sometimes people who have never been through it don't realize how hard it is and what you're going through."

During Monday's news conference, Savard said he was scared because he was suffering bouts of memory loss. Bergeron can completely understand.

"I could see myself the same way and I know what he's going through," he said. "He's going to get better; it's only a matter of time."

Both Bergeron and Savard have praised the Bruins and their medical staff for how they've handled their ordeals.

"The Bruins have dealt with this issue with me and Savvy before really in the right way," Bergeron said. "They think about the person first and the hockey player second. They've done it again, and I think it's good for Savvy. Giving him the rest of the season to regroup and get better will be good for him."

Bergeron and Savard have talked many times about their situations. Bergeron knows how Savard is feeling. The headaches will go away. His memory will be sharp again. He will be healthy and enjoy a quality life.

The only thing missing for the remainder of this season -- and possibly beyond -- will be hockey.

"I told him, 'Just make sure you're honest with yourself.' And I think he's done that," Bergeron said. "It was tough for him to make this decision. I think the medical staff and management did a great job, just like they did with me.

"Hopefully he'll be back for training camp."

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com. James Murphy of ESPNBoston.com contributed to this report.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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