On July 1st, 2006, the Bruins made a splash in the free agent market when they signed the leagues tallest player, defenseman Zdeno Chara
, and smallish, pesky forward, Marc Savard
Chara came as advertised.
Big, powerful, tenacious, hard working -- there were no surprises with him. He leads more by example and deed than with words, and was the logical choice for the team’s vacant captaincy.
Savard, on the other hand, was a bit of an enigma to many Bruins fans.
He had played alongside superstar point producers Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa, and there were some who wondered if he had enough talent to be THE go-to guy for the Bruins. Some wondered what he, alone, would bring to the table.
All season Savard has given the doubters his answers many times over.
You see, the joke in the locker room is that the "Marc Savard
Media Centre" is always open. But beyond his jokester persona and quick wit, Savvy has given his best answers on the ice.
Coming into today, and after three points last night, Savvy is 4th in the entire NHL in scoring, 3rd in assists.
Simply put: Savard has been downright huge for the Bruins and proves his worth EVERY night.
“Marc is one of the top playmaking centers in the game today,” said assistant general manager Jeff Gorton at the time of the signing. “He will fit in well with the skill players we have on our team and the direction in which we are headed.”
Savard, 29, is in his ninth NHL season and with his fourth NHL team since the NY Rangers drafted him as their third pick, 91st overall, in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft.
He played four seasons of junior hockey with Oshawa of the OHL with 132-281-413 totals and 269 penalty minutes in 239 career junior games and was only the third player in OHL history to twice win their scoring title.
The 5’10”, 195 lb. native of Ottawa, Ontario split his first two professional seasons between the NY Rangers and their AHL affiliate in Hartford before a June 26, 1999 trade to Calgary, where he broke into the NHL to stay.
He remained with the Flames for three-plus seasons until going to Atlanta for Ruslan Zainullin on November 15, 2002 and has played the last two NHL years with the Thrashers.
Coming into this year Savard had scored 20+ goals on three occasions and last season he ranked ninth overall in the NHL scoring race with career-high totals of 28 goals and 69 assists for 97 points in 82 games.
And with 24 games remaining in the schedule, Savvy is projected to hit career highs in goals, assists, and points and has a 20-56-76 line through 58 games.
But those numbers don’t tell the whole story.
This space is full of anecdotes that attest to Savard’s importance in the dressing room and on the bench -- the rally helmets and the pranks and the quips and the quotes, on top of the goals and the assists and the points.
Win or lose, he welcomes the press to his stall and answers question after question with an attitude which belies the intensity that he shows on the ice.
And most importantly for this particular Bruins squad, he believes deeply in his teammates and the Bruins organization -- and continues to say so even through the roughest of times.
The bottom line: Savvy is exactly what the NHL and the Bruins need -- a character with character who is as fun to listen to as he is to watch.