Trade closes the book on Savard's Bruins career

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BOSTON -- One thing the Bruins did in their flurry of July 1 activity was officially close the door on Marc Savard’s Boston career.

Savard’s playing days ended in 2010-11 after the oft-concussed center took a seemingly harmless hit from Matt Hunwick. He suffered another concussion, never again stepped on the ice, and still suffers from symptoms associated with post-concussion syndrome.

But Savard's contract runs through 2016-17 and he's been on the B's books all this time. That obviously changed when the Bruins shipped his contract, along with Reilly Smith, to Florida in exchange for 6-foot-6 winger Jimmy Hayes. Savard's pact. which made Boston's salary-cap problems more acute over the years, was attractive to the low-payroll Panthers, who are willing to take on dead-money contracts to reach the salary-cap floor.

The trade prompted the 37-year-old Savard to send out a couple of B’s-related tweets over the last couple of days.

General manager Don Sweeney said he talked with Savard -- who, with Zdeno Chara, was in the first wave of big-ticket free-agent signings by then-GM Peter Chiarelli when Chiarelli took over in 2006 -- on Wednesday to inform him of the trade, and to thank him for his time with the Bruins. Sweeney said Savard told him that his health is improving and he mostly feels good these days, though he still doesn’t feel the fog has lifted 100 percent.

“I was happy for him because he sounded like he was in a much better place," said Sweeney. "[The concussions were] obviously devastating to him. He was a foundational player for us in turning things around, and we were grateful for that. It wasn’t fun to see him go through that, (but we're happy) he’s coming out the other side and he’s in a better place for himself. You know, he said his golf game’s coming around and he’s not having as many headaches, and setbacks in things. From his life perspective, quality of life, things are much better.

“I was so happy to hear that from him . . . He was a huge part of what we wanted to do and get us in a position to turn this thing around. [Wednesday's trade] was just an opportunity for us to have some more flexibility, and he was understanding of that and I appreciated that from him. He’s a great guy. We’ve missed him in the locker room, missed him on the ice and hopefully he can just continue to get better in his own life while he has a new family, and we think the world of him. We thank him for his time as a player, and obviously wish him the best in his own life and to continue getting back into absolute full health.”

Savard was never the same after a March, 2010 Matt Cooke blind-side elbow to the head knocked him out for the rest of that regular season. He was able to return in the second round of the playoffs, but was a shell of the player he once was. The Hunwick hit took place the following season, and Savard hasn’t played in an NHL game since; he's been on long-term injured reserve every year. Because of a regrettable stipulation in the NHL’s CBA, players like Savard can’t retire prematurely due to injury or they’d forfeit the remaining years of salary on their contract.

Savard finished with 74 goals and 231 assists for 305 points in 304 career games for the Black and Gold, and had another eight goals and 14 points in 25 playoff games for the Bruins in three separate trips to the postseason.

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