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Marc Savard ready to take coaching experience to the next level

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It’s been seven years since Marc Savard last suited up as a player, but as he continues his recovery from concussions that ended his career he’s kept one regular routine from his playing days.

“Not so much a set schedule, still a set nap. An hour and a half, two-hour nap at 12 o’clock — so I’ve kept that schedule alive,” Savard told Pro Hockey Talk on Wednesday.

Savard officially announced his retirement this week following an 807-game NHL career with the New York Rangers, Calgary Flames, Atlanta Thrashers and Boston Bruins. He finished with 207 goals, 706 points and one Stanley Cup ring. A second concussion in less than a year forced him to miss the Bruins’ 2011 championship run, but the team successfully petitioned to have his name engraved on the trophy.

Health-wise, Savard is doing great. “It’s the best it’s been in a long time,” he said. He’s staying active and keeping his mind occupied while spending plenty of time with his family.

Part of what’s keeping Savard busy these days is coaching minor hockey in Peterborough, Ont. The experience behind the bench teaching kids, including his youngest son, Tyler, has inspired him to want to move up the ranks and into junior hockey.

“I’d like to coach in the [Ontario Hockey League] or maybe move up at some point,” he said. “My real focus is the younger generation. Been doing a lot of AAA hockey here in Peterborough. We have the OHL Petes. I played for the [Oshawa] Generals. I would look into doing something like that to move my career forward. Right now, I’ve been doing the kids hockey and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s a lot of fun. I love giving back and it’s been great.”

To find the biggest influence on Savard’s coaching spirit, you have to go back to his days with the Thrashers. Two months after he was dealt from Calgary to Atlanta, the team hired Bob Hartley as their new head coach. Fifteen years later, Savard still remembers Hartley’s impact.

“He really gave me the opportunity to be the best I could be,” Savard said. “The first day he came in we had a meeting and he told me flat out that he was going to give me a great opportunity. Everything worked out excellent from there and I owe a lot to him.”

Hartley knew, even when he was coaching in Colorado, what kind of player Savard could be. In Atlanta, the head coach unlocked that potential, which helped Savard’s offensive game in his final season with the Thrashers and first year in Boston where he posted 97 and 96 points, respectively.

“He gave me 20 minutes-plus ice time every night and he really stayed on me and made me believe in myself like I had before the down times in Calgary,” Savard said. “He was very supportive and made me really realize how good I can be.”

Those lessons Hartley taught on the ice in Atlanta stayed with Savard as he entered the youth coaching world. He remembered the importance of communication; how there are numerous personalities to manage and how to find out the right buttons to push in order to get a player going. For example, Savard recalled Hartley being tough on Ilya Kovalchuk to improve his defensive game, while later showering him with praise after every goal.

“It was really something to see and something that I’ve taken,” he said.

Savard is a regular hockey watcher on television, especially when it comes to the Bruins. And now that he’s wearing a coaching whistle and track suit, you’ll often find him jotting down notes during games, picking out certain aspects of a power play or penalty kill that he liked.

“That’s just having an eye and trying to pick up little things here and there,” he said. “I’m always watching for things, trying to learn. Every day you could learn something, we all know that.”

What does the future hold for Savard and could it involve an NHL return in a coaching capacity? He’s not thinking that far ahead and is just enjoying the moment.

“We’ll see where this road takes me, but right now I’m really focused on the OHL or doing something with the younger age just to get some reps in and get used to being behind the bench a little more,” he said.

“I’m not going to put any limits on anything as I did as a player, so we’ll see what’s down the road.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Bruins anthem singer Rene Rancourt and his fist pumps to retire after this season

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For over 40 years, the Boston Bruins have featured Rene Rancourt as their anthem singer. On Wednesday, the team announced that the colorful crooner will be hanging up his microphone after this season.

The 78-year-old Rancourt, a trained opera singer, actually began his anthem singing career performing before Boston Red Sox games. He was brought on board by the Bruins after a performance prior to Game 6 of the 1975 World Series — The Carlton Fisk Homerun Game — when he subbed in for Kate Smith.

“I knew practically nothing about hockey,” Rancourt told Joshua Kloke of Vice Sports in 2016. “I didn’t even know where the Boston Garden was.”

Quite the character, Rancourt quickly became a staple before games and over time became known for his fist pumps, which energize crowds nightly, and his salute. The fist pumps were inspired by former Bruin Randy Burridge’s “stump pump” celebration after goals.

If you were lucky, the wedding or other event you were attending would be interrupted by Rancourt’s appearance to belt out a couple of tunes. It was also an annual tradition to see him sing Christmas carols during Bruins games every December.

Rancourt will be honored during the Bruins’ final regular season game on April 8. It will be interesting to see how many fist pumps his pulls off during his last appearance at TD Garden, whenever that may happen this spring.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

The Buzzer: Tavares gets back to scoring ways

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Players of the Night: 

Jonathan Bernier, Colorado Avalanche: Bernier made quite the save on Ryan Kesler, using his paddle to stop a backhand shot after sprawling across his crease in an attempt of desperation. He also stopped 33 pucks and won his sixth straight game in the process.

Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks: Jones made 29 out of 30 saves in the second and third periods in a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. His 35-save effort was a nice rebound after allowing three goals on six shots and getting yanked on Saturday.

John Tavares, New York Islanders: Tavares scored a shorty in regulation on an unassisted breakaway and then the game-winner in overtime to lead the Isles past the Habs in Montreal.

Highlights of the Night:

Tyler Seguin provided some matinee magic with this overtime winner in Boston. What a goal:

Bernier made this incredible paddle save on a poor Ryan Kesler:

MISC:

Scores:

Stars 3, Bruins 2 (OT)

Avalanche 3, Ducks 1

Sharks 4, Kings 1

Islanders 5, Canadiens 4 (OT)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Canadiens’ Phillip Danault takes slap shot to head

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On-ice moments don’t get much scarier than what happened at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Saturday.

Late in the second period in a game between the Montreal Canadiens and the visiting Boston Bruins, Zdeno Chara took a one-timer from the point that got high in a hurry and caught Canadiens forward Phillip Danault in the side of the head.

Danault laid on the ice for several minutes before a stretcher made its way out onto the ice.

Players on both teams, refs and fans stood nearly silent as the Canadiens trainers worked with Danault.

Pucks traveling at high speeds are inherently dangerous, but that doesn’t make plays like this any less difficult to watch.

Nobody knows the velocity of Chara’s shot better than the man himself. And Chara looked devastated by what laid in from of him.

Chara stood by Danault throughout the whole ordeal, and when they got him up on the stretcher and ready to wheel him out, Chara kneeled down and said some words to the Canadiens forward.

UPDATE: The Canadiens tweeted out that Danault has been taken to the hospital due to a head injury. They say he’s moving and awake.

Refs stopped the game with 1:37 left in the period, sending both teams to their respective rooms for an early intermission and resumed the game following the break with 1:37 left.

UPDATE: According to the Canadiens, Danault is at home resting after being released from hospital.

Here’s what Chara had to say after the game:


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Patrice Bergeron is still very, very good

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If anyone thought Patrice Bergeron was going to fall off at 32 years of age, they were wrong. Very, very wrong.

Indeed, the NHL’s best defensive forward for what seems like an eternity at this point has been his remarkable self once again this season. He entered Saturday’s contest with 26 points in 33 games.

He left it with 31 in 34.

Yes, Bergeron put on a dazzling display against the woeful Carolina Hurricanes.

The four-time Selke winner came into the game three points shy of 700 for his career and reached the feat in the first period, scoring twice (one which was shorthanded) and adding an assist. He followed up a brilliant five-goal first frame (the first time that’s happened in over 24 years) by the Bruins with two more goals in the second, matching a Bruins record for most goals in a game with four, and match personal-best point total with five.

The last Bruin to score four in a game came back in 1999 from Dave Andreychuk.

It’s been a while, then, and Bergeron picked quite the night to match the record.

The Bruins chased Hurricanes starter Cam Ward after two shots on goal — both finding the back of the net.

Boston improved to 8-0-2 in their past 10 games and have scored 13 goals in their past three games.

But it was Bergeron’s night, completing his second-career hat trick to help the Bruins to an easy win.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck