- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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BOSTON -- For the first time since Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli announced that Marc Savard would miss time during training camp because of post-concussion syndrome, the Bruins' center addressed the media Saturday and acknowledged that he is not close to returning to the lineup.
"I'm not close to 100 percent yet, but it's good to be back and be around the guys," a tired-looking Savard told a throng of reporters huddled around his dressing room stall Saturday morning.
Savard failed his most recent neurological exam Sept. 17, the Bruins confirmed, and there was no word on when the next exam would be.
Savard also addressed an ESPNBoston.com report earlier this week in which a team source said it was "possible" he could miss the entire 2010-11 season. Although he did not deny the report, as Chiarelli did in the immediate aftermath of the story, Savard claimed he is not thinking about that possibility.
"I hope not, that's not what I'm looking at but I'm definitely going to take my time and make sure that I'm 100 percent," Savard said when asked of the ESPNBoston.com report earlier this week. "That's definitely not what I'm thinking about but I'm going to take my time and like I said, make sure I'm 100 percent."
According to Savard, the post-concussion syndrome symptoms began when he first started to work out in early July and they would not go away. It was in early August when he finally faced the reality that he may have to put a hold on his preseason preparations.
"I went home after the season, took a month off and from there I started working out and everything was going really well," he recalled. "I had some issues then and just kept going, but I was keeping quiet. But in early August I was with my agent [Larry Kelly] playing golf and had some issues there. I finally just started telling him what was going on and it just went from there."
Savard has been dealing with the normal symptoms of post-concussion syndrome -- dizziness, nausea, headaches, fatigue and depression -- and admitted the latter has been the toughest to deal with.
"Just some post-concussion things, some dizzy spills and tough days with things that every day I normally do, I'm having trouble," he said. "I've had issues with everything. Probably the depression has been the toughest. I just have to take care and hopefully I get back soon."
Savard, who suffered the concussion March 7 on Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke's hit, returned to play in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers. Savard admitted Saturday that he probably rushed back too soon and blamed himself.
"I think on my own fault I might have come back a little too early last year," Savard admitted. "That's my own fault. I guess it's just the hockey player in me that I wanted to play hockey in the playoffs. I had huge fatigue problems during that series and I think when [David] Krejci got hurt [in Game 3], that really hurt me," he acknowledged.
"Especially I think in Game 4 when I played 24 minutes I probably should've been sitting with you guys [in the press box] because I didn't have anything left after that. I tried, but I know now that as someone relayed to me --- I think a doctor -- that you can come back and play from a knee injury and play through it, but I guess with your brain, it probably wasn't the best thing to do and this time I've got to make sure I'm ready."
Following Savard's comments and after the Bruins' skate in preparation for Saturday night's exhibition game against the Florida Panthers, Bruins coach Claude Julien said he was unaware of Savard having any post-concussion symptoms during the Flyers series. Savard passed a neurological test in order to receive the green light to play in the series, and on Saturday, Julien didn't recall the crafty center showing any symptoms that indicated he wasn't ready.
"As a coaching staff, we never, never force people to play until they're medically cleared," Julien pointed out. "He passed the tests and he did everything the proper way. Now, once you pass those tests, the only person that can determine that is the player himself. And he was adamant about, 'Hey, I'm great, I'm ready to go.' We started him off slowly and obviously he played a little bit more when [Krejci] got hurt. But I never got feedback from any of that.
"The bottom line is, I'm not going to overanalyze this whole thing," Julien added. "We have a guy here that we need to give him a chance to get better because, first of all, health is the most important thing, not the game at this moment. Once his health is better and he's ready to come back, then we've got to make sure we ease him back in. And more than anything else, we'll be glad to have him back because he's one of those elite players."
Savard wouldn't say if he was going with the team Sunday and Monday on its team-building trip in Vermont, or the season-opening trip to Belfast, Ireland and Prague, Czech Republic. For now, he is just committed to returning to playing condition.
"I'm obviously still a little ways away and I'm going to take my time and make sure I'm good," he said. "So right now, I'm going to take it slow here, be around the guys, and getting the help that I need right now."
Savard, who signed a seven-year contract extension last December, also said Saturday that he wasn't "hurt" anymore over summer trade rumors -- as he told the Ottawa Sun in mid-August -- and said he wasn't nervous at all that his contract might be voided.
"A lot of that stuff comes around in the media, but I've been talking to Peter the whole time and it's part of the business," Savard said. "I'm a veteran guy and I've been around long enough to know that's just what people talk about. I knew I was going to be here and this is where they wanted me. But obviously with the [salary] cap, people start putting numbers together and that's the way things end up."
As for the questions surrounding his contract extension, set to begin this season with an annual cap hit of $4 million, Savard said: "No. I knew that everything was legit. I signed for seven years and I planned on playing for seven years and that's that."
James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com