Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli says Marc Savard won’t play this year and might not ever play again

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To some, this probably isn’t much of a surprise, but it’s still a sad thing to confirm: it’s almost certain that Marc Savard won’t play next season. Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said that much today, according to Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe.

Chiarelli said “Marc Savard won’t play this year,” elaborating that his issues with concussions haven’t changed since his most recent injury happened thanks to a January 22 hit by Matt Hunwick. Perhaps the saddest part is that even Chiarelli believes that Savard’s career – not just his season – could very well be over as his struggles with post-concussion syndrome continue.

There’s always the hope of an unexpected breakthrough, but Chiarelli’s comments were pretty grim.

“Based on what I see, what I hear, what I read, and what I’m told, it’s very unlikely Marc will play again,” Chiarelli said. “Now, knowing the uncertainty of this injury, there’s always a chance [he could play]. But based on what I’m told, it’s very unlikely he’ll play. As an employer, I support him and hope he gets back to living a healthy life.”

Sadly, Savard has some monetary incentive to put off making that official. Here’s a look at the salary breakdown of his contract (remaining years only).

2011-12: $7 million
12-13: $6.5M
13-14: $5M
14-15: $1.5M
15-16: $525K
16-17: $525K

While the Bruins can place Savard on the long-term injured reserve for salary cap relief, that money wouldn’t come off the books unless Savard officially retires. It’s tough to blame him if he decides that the added security of another $7 million (or more) is necessary, but hopefully this situation won’t drag on too long if he’s certain that his career is over.

Looking back at Savard’s career

There will be an undeniable feeling of “What if?” when it comes to Savard’s career. Things fell apart in the last two seasons, as he scored 33 points in 41 games in 2009-10 and 10 in 25 contests in 10-11 when he could play. Savard was one of the league’s premier passers in the four previous seasons before that stomach-churning hit by Matt Cooke in 2010.

2005-06 (with Atlanta): 69 assists, 97 points
06-07 (with Boston): 74 assists, 96 points
07-08 : 63 assists, 78 points
08-09: 63 assists, 88 points

Savard made two All-Star appearances (2008 and 09) in that span, which provided numbers that few players could match. That aren’t many players who could match those gaudy setup stats.

Savard goes from All-Star to cautionary tale

Now instead of wondering if he could put together the type of career that would at least encourage Hall of Fame debates, it’s clear that we’ve probably seen the last of the 34-year-old playmaker. It’s hard to imagine him taking another big risk with his health after it seems like he came back too soon in 2010-11 – at least with the advantage of hindsight.

He provides a painful cautionary tale for Crosby and other players who are suffering from post-concussion syndrome but want to get back to the game so badly. Who knows if things would have been different if Savard waited longer to return from his injuries, but if he ever plays another NHL game, it sounds like it won’t happen for a long, long time.