Bruins

Marc Savard officially retires from NHL seven years after last game

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Marc Savard officially retires from NHL seven years after last game

It was a foregone conclusion because he hadn’t played an NHL game in seven years since suffering a final concussion whole playing for the Bruins, but Marc Savard called it a career on Monday by officially retiring from the NHL.

Savard played 13 NHL seasons for four different teams and was one of two heralded free agents to sign with the Bruins in 2006 along with defenseman Zdeno Chara.

Savard effectively had his career ended by a nasty head shot delivered by Penguins cheap shot artist Matt Cooke in the spring of 2010, but came back to play 25 games in 2010-11 for Boston the following season.

A Matt Hunwick hit delivered afterwards in Colorado was the final blow.

It was the Cooke hit on Savard that spurred the NHL on the very next season to finally begin outlawing blindside hits and any kind of illegal hits targeting the head.

Savard still had his name included among the Bruins immortalized on the Stanley Cup when the B’s won it in 2011, and was forced to prolong his retirement announcement due to the seven year, $28.15 million contract extension he signed with Boston back in 2009. His contract was included in trades with the Florida Panthers and New Jersey Devils over the last few seasons, but it officially expired at the end of last season.

So the 40-year-old Savard officially announced his retirement on his twitter account: “While I, unfortunately, haven’t been able to play since January 2011 after suffering a career-ending concussion, and with my NHL contract recently expiring, I’d like to officially announce my retirement from the National Hockey League. I wish to thank the New York Rangers, the Calgary Flames, the Atlanta Thrashers and the Boston Bruins organizations for giving me the opportunity to play in the NHL for 13 incredible seasons. I owe everything that my family and I enjoy today to the great game of hockey. It has been a wild and wonderful journey, and one I’ll remember forever. It is impossible for me to give credit to all of the people who have contributed in so many ways to my career, but to those that believed in me, and helped me believe in myself, I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I believe I can make a positive impact in the world. I love hockey, and I will forever have a passion for this game. I look forward to the chances I may have to give back to the game that has given me so much. I’ve learned a thing or two from some great people throughout my career and life, and I look forward to a chance to pass that along to others. This is not an easy thing for me to put down into words, but I feel as though I’m ready now for the next chapter in my life to begin. Also, last but not least my health is the best it’s been in a very long time and I’m grateful for that.”

The best news for Bruins fans and any fans of Savard is that many of the post-concussion symptoms appear to have lessened, or disappeared, over the years away from the ice. Savard coached his sons at the junior level in Canada once he stepped away from playing, and it sounds like he’s feeling good enough now to purse the coaching thing with a little more fervor.

“I think the biggest thing is that I’m happy where I am in my life,” said Savard to NHLPA.com. “I’m the healthiest I’ve been in a long time. I didn’t want it to linger on any more. My contract is up and I wanted to get it out there and head off in a different direction to pursue a coaching career.”

Savard finished with 207 goals and 706 points in 807 games during his NHL career, but there’s no telling what those final numbers could have been given his offensive skills, his creativity and his place on a Bruins team just beginning to get rolling offensively. Those high-flying days were a long time ago for Savard, however, and it’s good to hear that he’s simply healthy and very much looking forward to the next steps in his life.  

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Jarome Iginla practices with P-Bruins

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Mark Divver

Jarome Iginla practices with P-Bruins

Jarome Iginla skated with the Providence Bruins in the AHL team's practice on Tuesday, according to the Providence Journal.

Iginla doesn't want to retire yet. But he's not necessarily going to get a shot in Boston. The Bruins aren't interested in signing the 40-year-old winger, but instead wanted to do him a favor, a source told the Providence Journal.

"I'd love to still play," Iginla told the Providence Journal. "This is kind of the first step, getting out here and seeing how it is. … I wanted to see if I can still go. I don't have any deals at this point."

Iginla has had a prolific career with 525 goals and 570 assists (1,095 points). During his 2016-17 season, he spent time with the Colorado Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings. He played in 80 games, and finished with 14 goals, 13 assists and a minus-30 rating.

Bruins' defense, goaltending enjoys mini-breakthrough against Flames

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USA TODAY Sports Photo

Bruins' defense, goaltending enjoys mini-breakthrough against Flames

Here’s what we learned in the Bruins 2-1 overtime win over the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday afternoon.

1)      Once again the Bruins were challenged and provided the perfect response. After giving up 15 goals in their previous four games and getting blown out by Vancouver last weekend, the Bruins recognized their defensive game had slipped in all zones. Their defensive layers had disappeared up and down the ice, the fore-check had gone missing and the D-zone coverage was leaving big holes in the slot and in front of the net. The Bruins weren’t working particularly hard, they were making some pretty elementary mistakes and they were allowing opponents to gain way too much speed and momentum entering their zone. All of that changed against Calgary after a spirited practice on Sunday, and the Bruins allowed just four shots on net in the first period against the Flames. They went on to allow just a single goal in the game, and kept grinding until they took a 2-1 win in OT. Hand-in-hand with the B’s defense responding was the Bruins goaltending situation responding to the challenge as well. Tuukka Rask hadn’t been particularly good in recent losses to the Buffalo Sabres and Canucks over the last week, and he wasn’t getting the support in front of him either. That added up to a lot of goals allowed and getting yanked in the Canucks loss amid some poor rebound control. Rask was locked in from beginning to end on Monday afternoon, and made five show-stopping saves in OT prior to Brad Marchand’s breakaway game-winner. What’s impressive is that it took just one bad loss for the B’s to totally snap back into place. There are times when it can take three, four or even five games for a hockey club to shed their bad defensive habits, but the Bruins did it immediately and haven’t lost back-to-back games since November. That is simply amazing at this point, and a testament to the coaching staff and the players. 

2)      In addition to the Bruins defense and goaltending responding, it was impressive to see Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak respond with big goals as well. Neither player was very good in the blowout loss to Vancouver, and Pastrnak had been mired in a bit of a slump with just one goal in his last 11 games headed into Monday afternoon. Both players have been targeted and thumped pretty solidly by opponents just as they were down the stretch last season as well, and they hadn’t really responded in an effective way until Monday. Even into the playoffs last season, Pastrnak really struggled to respond to some of the elevated intensity and physicality that he saw. Pastrnak scored in the first period on a nifty play aided by a Patrice Bergeron active stick against the side boards, and he enjoyed a number of scoring chances against the Flames. Marchand had seven shot attempts that culminated with his breakaway in overtime for the game-winner, and he was also engaged and physical throughout while both he and Matthew Tkachuk tried to “out-punk” each other on the ice. With a Bruins team that’s going to need their top line to produce regularly for them as the games get tighter, Monday’s mini-breakthrough was an important sign that Marchand and Pastrnak are ready to fight through some of the resistance thrown their way.

3)       Monday’s win also saw the Bruins once again drop the gloves to defend one of their teammates. On Saturday night it was Brandon Carlo sticking up for David Pastrnak, and on Monday afternoon it was Adam McQuaid dropping Garnet Hathaway after he took a shot at Charlie McAvoy right in front of the Bruins bench while practically inviting No. 54 to get involved. The Bruins will need to continue to bring their immediate reaction to borderline hits and opponents taking runs at their players, and that starts with McQuaid and trickles down through the rest of the lineup. Team toughness, they call it.

Plus

*Brad Marchand finished up with the sweet, little backhanded five-hole goal on the breakaway in overtime, and played an excellent overall game with seven shot attempts and plenty of active, engaged play all over the ice in 20 plus minutes of action. 

*Tuukka Rask stopped 28-of-29 shots against Calgary and was solid throughout the game. But he was amazing in the overtime session when he was turning away Grade-A chances from Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett at one end while making five stops overall in the extra session. That little stand-on-his-head routine bought the B’s enough time for Marchand’s game-winner at the other end, and he certainly carried the Bruins to the extra OT point this time around. 

*Four shots on net and an eye-catching three blocked shots for David Pastrnak in 18:38 of ice time, including the game’s first goal in the first period when he curled to the net and beat Dave Rittich low with a shot. 

Minus

*Michael Frolik finished as a minus player for the Flames, and had the turnover to Patrice Bergeron in the first period that led directly to David Pastrnak’s goal. It was a pretty well-played game, so those little mistakes really stood out for either side. 

*Two giveaways and a minus-1 in 22:49 of ice time for Dougie Hamilton, who pretty much had a nothing game in a reminder to Bruins fans that they upgraded when they made Charlie McAvoy their No. 1 defenseman of the future. 

*No shots on net in 12:54 of ice time for Jake DeBrusk, who didn’t seem to have the same jump to his game on Monday that he did last weekend in Vancouver. He may have been saving it for Edmonton, where he grew up and certainly wants to put on a show on Tuesday night.