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Bruins shut Savard down for remainder of season

by Mike G. Morreale
The Boston Bruins have officially decided to shut down center Marc Savard for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs due to post-concussion symptoms.

The announcement was made during a press conference Monday afternoon at TD Garden, where Savard was joined by Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli and team physician Dr. Peter Asnis.

"I'm having headaches on and off, but the thing that scares me the most are the little memory things I forget," Savard said. "On the outside, you look normal when you're not wearing a cast or something, but inside, you feel it. I sleep more than usual and it's definitely tough.

"When I talked to (Boston coach) Claude (Julien) the other night, he was supportive and I actually said I'd be sending text messages during periods to help out if I can, but it's going to be tough."

Savard, 33, suffered the fourth concussion of his career and the second in 10 months on Jan. 22 against the Avalanche in Colorado when his head hit the bottom of the glass following a hit by former teammate Matt Hunwick. It was actually the second big hit he suffered in a week. He also collided with Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland in the third period of a Jan. 15 game at TD Garden.

"I do remember the (Hunwick) hit," Savard said. "When I got hit, I had a quick blackout and lost any energy I had at that point in the game. I felt weak. It wasn't Matt's fault, though. I was skating fast, for once, and he finished his check. He contacted me twice since then and expressed to me how terrible he felt, but it wasn't a bad hit at all.

"The hit against Pittsburgh (Engelland) might have added to it, though."

Prior to the All-Star break, the Bruins decided to have Savard rest in his native Ontario before bringing him back to Boston last week.

"I talked to family and friends over the break and the overall consensus was to say I'm finished for the season and the playoffs because of my health," Savard said. "It's still really tough to swallow because of the team we have. To see (Zdeno Chara, Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron) here (at the press conference) is special to me. It makes the decision that much more tougher."

He was evaluated by doctors last Friday and Chiarelli, Savard and his agent, Larry Kelly, met Saturday to discuss the best course of action following the last medical exam. It was at that time the group reached the conclusion that Savard, who has missed the last five games, shouldn't return to game action until next season.

"There's a lot of emotions right now," Savard said. "I think I'm frustrated mostly. It's tough to understand why this happens and the most frustrating thing is to not know really what's going on and how to cure it -- I think it's time and patience. But those are things I feel I don't have much of."

The only prescription right now is plenty of rest.

"Initially, the only thing he needs to focus on is removing all exertion, which means mental and physical exertion," Asnis said. "It's removing all stress-related things and as he progresses, we'll follow a slow protocol to gradually get back into it."

And Savard has every intention of returning to the ice.

"I'm obviously going to get more medial tests done and then I'll be able to make a clearer decision on what my future is but, right now, I'm hoping to continue at some point again," Savard said.

Savard was sidelined the first 23 games of the season dealing with concussion-related symptoms resulting from the devastating third-period hit by Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke on March 7, 2010. He suffered a Grade 2 concussion and missed the last 18 games of the regular season, but was eventually cleared to participate in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers. He scored the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 1 -- his only goal in a seven-game playoff loss.

Asnis doesn't believe any cumulative damage occurred during this concussion as a result of the Cooke hit last season.

"Marc had complete relief of all the symptoms of last year and he sustained a hit (by Hunwick) that was an appropriate hit to cause a concussion," he said. "There is certainly speculation about cumulative effects of concussion and research going on. As far as this hit goes, he sustained a concussion that he likely would have received whether or not he had a concussion last year."

Savard made his 2010-11 debut on Dec. 2 and would play a part in 25 games this season, producing 2 goals, 10 points and a minus-7 rating. He has 207 goals and 706 points in 807 games over a career spanning 12-plus seasons with the New York Rangers, Calgary Flames, Atlanta Thrashers and Bruins. He was chosen by the New York Rangers in the fourth round (No. 91) of the 1995 Entry Draft.

The two-time All-Star, who was signed to a seven-year contract extension on Dec. 1, 2009, has played 67 games since the start of the 2009-10 campaign, notching 12 goals and 43 points with a minus-5 rating.

Savard will be placed on long term injured reserve, which will free up some cap space for Chiarelli to possibly reinforce the lineup prior to the Feb. 28 trade deadline. Savard has an annual cap hit of over $4 million.

"Our strength has been down the middle and now there's a gap," Chiarelli said. "We're not going to be able to replace Marc, but we'll be diligent and see what's out there. We're looking at (2007 first-round choice) Zach Hamill down the middle, but we might want some experience, too. We have some space now for replacement players, so in the weeks leading up to the trade deadline, we'll be busy."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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