It started on March 7th, 2010.
That was the night that Boston Bruins C Marc Savard suffered a devastating concussion after taking a hit from Pittsburgh Penguins F Matt Cooke. It knocked Savard out until the second round of the 2010 NHL playoffs, during which the Bruins experienced the ultimate heartbreak after squandering a 3-0 series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Savard was back on the ice to start the 2010-2011 regular season, but was not the same player who produced nearly 100 points in each of his first two seasons as a Bruin. Nonetheless, he was on the ice.
But that all changed when Savard took what appeared to be an innocuous hit -- by hockey standards -- from Colorado Avalanche D Matt Hunwick on January 23rd, 2011. Due to lingering concussion symptoms, Savard has not returned to the ice since, and the prognosis for his return is starting to look grim.
"Right now, the way I’m still feeling and the daily issues I’m having, it’s tough to see a bright future right now, to be honest with you," Savard said, as seen in a recent piece on WEEI.com. "It’s tough. I still have my tough days that I want to get back and play, but at the end of the day, I know if I possibly got hit again, what could happen. It’s a day by day thing, still. I’m still hoping that something happens and I feel a lot better, but if I feel like this, I still couldn’t play."
For now, Savard's biggest concerns center around his issues with memory loss. As he describes, routine mishaps have become alarming, "I wasn’t a guy that forgot too much, and it seems like I’m forgetting my phone at home. My son played a game the other day, and I left the keys in ignition in the car. I turned it off, at least, but I went in and watched the game, and I was like, ‘Geez, where are my keys?’ I went out to the car, and they were in the ignition. So just little things like that that I would never do and that seem to keep happening."
Fortunately for Savard, he has not experienced any depression symptoms from the concussion, and maintains that he is "really enjoying life."
Without Savard, the Bruins have pressed forward and won their sixth Stanley Cup Franchise just a season ago. After a treacherous start to their title defense, the Bruins have played tantalizing hockey over the past 35 games, and stand two points ahead of the Ottawa Senators in the Northeast Division, although the Bruins have played five fewer games than the Sens.
Savard originally signed with the Bruins before the 2006 season, and was signed to a lucrative seven-year extension in December of 2009. Although the Bruins have missed the dynamic former All Star, they have been able to use the cap space created by Savard's presence on long-term injured reserve.
For now, Savard's health and happiness remain his top priorities, no matter if he is on the ice or off it.