It’s been over three years since Marc Savard last played in the NHL. The former Boston Bruins forward saw his career come to a premature end after suffering two concussions in a 10-month span; the first, most famously from Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins, which helped lead the way for the creation of Rule 48.
How does Savard feel about his misfortunate opening the door for change in the NHL?
“At the end of the day, I guess I’ll be known for that. Someone will remember me,” he joked while on TSN 1050 Thursday afternoon. “It’s for the best of the game. Unfortunately, at that time, there wasn’t a penalty to be served for what had gone on, a blindside hit. I’m glad that something good happened out of it anyway.”
Five months after his career ended in 2011, the Bruins won the Stanley Cup and Savard found a reason to smile.
The rule is that a player must play 41 regular season games or make one appearance in the Final in order to get his name engraved on the Cup. Savard only played 25 that season, but after the Bruins petitioned the league, his name joined those of his teammates in being engraved on the trophy.
“[Boston] was probably one of my favorite cities to play in, for sure,” he said. “And I’ll never forget the crowd and obviously, the general manager, Peter Chiarelli. He was just great for me and my whole career and really helped me. It was such a classy more by them to do it. I didn’t expect it.”
These days Savard said he keeps busy with his kids, including a newborn, and plays golf regularly. He still experiences issues from his concussions, like migraines and during hot weather, seeing “dots,” as he described it.
“Things are getting better,” he said. Still have some issues, but I can’t complain; life’s pretty good.”
Cooke wasn’t punished by the NHL for the hit on Savard in 2010. Since then, he’s been suspended three times: for boarding, elbowing and knee-on-knee hit.
Four years later, Savard is perplexed why Cooke is still playing.
“At the end of the day, it’s a game and it’s a physical one and obviously, he’s made some bad decisions, I think,” he said. “I sit back and watch ... what’s it going to take for them to finally put the books to this guy? It hasn’t happened yet. I don’t know if they’re waiting for someone to get paralyzed or something bad, really bad … I just don’t understand it really, to be quite honest.”
In the wake of the increased awareness of concussions, the NHL has tried to better protect players through rule changes, tougher punishments and better player safety, but with new information coming out all the time in regards to studying the brain, there is no immediate solution to the problem, something Savard acknowledged.
“[The NHL is] doing what they can do,” Savard said. “They don’t know a lot about it either. It’s something everybody’s trying to learn as quick as they can, but it’s such a tough situation with the brain. There’s just not enough knowledge of it right now. They’re trying. They’re trying their best.
“It’s going to be a long process until someone can figure out what’s actually going on up there.”
Stick-tap to the incomparable Hope Smoke
- - - - - - -