Boston Bruins: Marc Savard's Selfless Gesture Exemplifies The Ideal Athlete

Al DanielCorrespondent IIJanuary 12, 2012

BOSTON - MAY 01:  Marc Savard #91 of the Boston Bruins hands his stick off to a fan after the game against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 1, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeated the Flyers 5-4 in overtime.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

Marc Savard’s contract, which still has five full years yet to come, is not what makes the retirement-bound playmaker a part of the Boston Bruins even with his chronic injury.

His attitude and spirits in wake of that injury and its exponentially evident consequences are the proper way to gauge his membership.

Next weekend will mark exactly one full year since Savard last saw action in an NHL game. 

It was on Jan. 22, 2011, that an innocent hit by Colorado Avalanche defenseman and former teammate Matt Hunwick re-aggravated his horrid concussion troubles.

That confirmed the worst misgivings about the timing of Savard’s return to extramural action, first in the 2010 playoffs—only two months after being belted by Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke—and then six-and-a-half months after those playoffs.

The seven games he played that spring, and the 25 between last December and January, doubtlessly hastened the evaporation of his on-ice livelihood, which otherwise could have been salvaged with more continuous rest.

For that reason alone, Savard could not be blamed if he openly resented the Boston training and coaching staff for permitting, if not peddling two premature returns that have effectively cost him the rest of his career.

Instead, as best his situation permits, he is still lending his support to the Bruins and the Boston community.  Social media has left little margin of doubt in the former area for the better part of his first full season of inactivity.

And Savard put a Sharpie-strong stamp on both areas late Wednesday by announcing he would offer a luxury suite at TD Garden to patients from the Children’s Hospital of Boston for every Bruins home game through at least the 2013-14 campaign.

Up to this point, Savard has spent this season in his hometown of Peterborough, Ont., where he will reluctantly remain for Thursday night’s Bruins-Canadiens game due to inclement weather.

He was hoping to fly to Boston Thursday afternoon to greet the newly reserved box’s first visitors, and address the media on his philanthropic initiative. 

Instead, he spent the day on his Twitter account, prolifically lamenting the obstructive blizzard, but also reaching out to those who will still take in the game, opposite a serendipitously suspended Brad Marchand.

Since around the start of November, Savard has tweeted less about his condition and more regularly about his teammates, the NHL at large and his son Zach’s peewee team.

As it happens, the influx of Bruins-related messages began with a show of support when Boston was 3-6-0 and in the eye of a home-and-home sweep at the hands of Montreal.

Since then, the Bruins have soared from the cellar of the Eastern Conference to a footrace for No. 1 with the New York Rangers

All the while, Savard has been a long-distance, short-order commentator, variously applauding his head coach, recent teammates and those with whom he has not had a chance to skate, such as Rich Peverley.

No hard feelings?  Certainly none that Savard cares to divulge, if he has ever genuinely harbored any.

But now, his purchase of the suite and expressed desire to be on hand with its lucky occupants for at least one night confirms Savard wants to represent the Spoked-B to the best of his capability.

And by reaching out in this fashion to fellow victims of head injury in the wake of his own misfortunes, Savard might as well have slugged in yet another playoff overtime goal

The only difference is that this move should simultaneously draw the cheers of all 30 NHL fan bases.

Still enjoying a team’s success he helped to kick-start, even when he has been unavailable to contribute to the high points?  Working to enliven the lives of his fans instead of just his own?

I guess this is what the likes of Barry Melrose mean when they underscore hockey players’ character as the most exemplary in professional sports.