Savard making his way back slowly
Savard skated for the third time Tuesday morning at Ristuccia Arena as he tries to make his way back from post-concussion syndrome. Along with the team's strength and conditioning coach, John Whitesides, Savard spent 25 minutes on the ice, working on skating, stick-handling and shooting.
He was winded when he stepped off the ice, but feels fortunate he has reached this point of his rehab, even though he's still feeling the effects of PCS.
"I'm obviously feeling better because I'm out skating," Savard told ESPNBoston.com on Tuesday after his skate. "That's good news, but I'm still definitely not 100 percent. I still have some issues, but a lot of them aren't from the injury. My head isn't screwed up after I work out right now. Obviously, there are other ongoing issues."
Savard said he would rather keep those issues personal and did not want to talk specifically about them. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced at the start of training camp that Savard would miss the start the season because of his symptoms and the veteran forward spoke a few days later about his condition.
At that time he admitted he was also suffering from depression, and when asked Tuesday morning how he's been dealing with that, Savard said he's being helped professionally and wants to keep it personal.
"Obviously, that's the toughest thing to talk about, so I'll keep that to myself," he said. "I'm obviously still having some issues with that, but being around the guys, and getting the doctor's help that I'm getting, things are going up. I still have my down days, that's for sure, but I'm getting by."
It's hard for Savard and the Bruins not to get excited about the fact that he passed an exertion test last week and is actually skating again, but there is no way the team will rush him back. There is still no timetable for his possible return.
Savard suffered a Grade 2 concussion when he was on the receiving end of blindside hit by the Penguins' Matt Cooke last March. After missing nearly two months, Savard returned to action in time for the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers.
He was cleared to return to game action because he was symptom-free and had passed all of the exertion and neuro-psych tests. He wasn't rushed back last season, and he plans to take the necessary precautions again this season.
"That's one thing that I've learned this time, unlike a knee problem, you can't rush back and play on it when it's a little bit sore," he said. "I really don't have a timetable. Obviously, I would like to play this year, but I really don't have a timetable at all."
Just being on the ice is a major step for him.
"It's huge," he said. "I didn't think I would be on the ice this early, to be honest with you. To be out there feels great and hopefully things continue to go up from here."
It's common for an athlete who has suffered a concussion to eventually have PCS symptoms after a long period of rest. That was the case with Savard when he started to feel the symptoms during the summer. It became evident to him that he could possibly miss the season.
"Sure, [possibly missing the season] crossed my mind. It always did," he said. "It was ongoing through the summer, and I never really spoke up about it. Then I was able to see my agent early in August, I broke down with him and told him what had been going on all summer. We contacted the Bruins as soon as we could and got the doctors on it.
"The Bruins have been unbelievable with everything. Peter has been great, he's not rushing me and I want to make sure I'm 100 percent and I can help the team 100 percent like last year in the playoffs. There are some issues. I just have to keep working through them."
After Savard completed his on-ice workout, he jumped on the exercise bike for a cool-down ride and was planning on doing some light weight training. If all goes well, and he feels OK when he wakes up in the morning, he'll be back on the ice again.
He truly is taking it one day at a time.
Sure, [possibly missing the season] crossed my mind. It always did. It was ongoing through the summer, and I never really spoke up about it. Then I was able to see my agent early in August, I broke down with him and told him what had been going on all summer. We contacted the Bruins as soon as we could and got the doctors on it. The Bruins have been unbelievable with everything.” -- Marc Savard
"I think right now, when my heart rate peaks really quick, I'm having a little bit of balance stuff, but that's just from the heart rate getting up, the blood gets to my head really quick and I feel a little off balance," he said. "Besides that I'm feeling really good. We've gone from 15 to 20 to 25 minutes [on the ice]. I'm taking it a step at a time. No one is pushing me. If I need time, a day off here and there, I just need to speak up and they've been great.
"Claude and the whole training staff -- Don DelNegro, Scott Waugh and Chiarelli -- have been great. It's something we're looking at day-by-day and no one is putting any pressure on me."
Recently, the Buffalo Sabres' Jason Pominville suffered a concussion when he was hit from behind by Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller was outraged after his teammate needed to be taken off the ice on a stretcher last week.
Miller made it a point to slam Cooke for his hit on Savard last March and the effects it has had on the Bruins forward.
"Savard's still not playing. One of the best playmakers we have in this game is still not playing, because of a stupid [expletive] hit," Miller said.
Savard read and heard Miller's comments and was appreciative.
"Obviously, we've got to get that stuff out of the game," Savard said. "Ryan Miller said some pretty nice things and I appreciate that because it's coming from one of the top goalies in the league -- we have two top goalies here too -- it's very nice for him to say things like that."
"Unfortunately it happened to a guy like Shane Doan the other day," Savard said. "I know him a little bit from All-Star Games and playing in the West before. He's a great person, a really nice guy and unfortunately it happened to him. We're trying to clean that stuff up. It shows now no matter who you are, you're going to get fined or suspended for it."
While Savard continues his rehab, he said he's enjoying the early success the Bruins have been having.
"It looks good," he said. "I think the way the guys are playing makes me feel better, just to be able to take my time. Not that I'm going to rush back for anything, but to see them playing well really makes me happy. They have two tough games coming up and hopefully they can do well."
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.