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The Marc Savard Saga

June 28, 2010

Draft weekend has come and gone. Most Bruins fans are busy ushering in the Tyler Seguin era, anointing him the savior of the Boston Bruins. Let the kid get acclimated first, eh? But it is an exciting time in Bruins land.

But not all is well for the black and gold. Marc Savard rumors are swirling everywhere. It seems like every day we see a headline that says “Savard on verge of being dealt” and then he’s still with us.

Let us preface this conversation by saying we want Savard to stay. Getting rid of a perennial 80-90 point scorer on a team that struggled to score last season seems pointless (no pun intended).

Towards the end of 2009, Marc Savard signed a new 7 year deal with the Bruins for an annual cap hit of $4 million. The contract was front loaded of course giving Savard the money he wanted overall and keeping the cap hit minimal for the Bruins. Seemed like one of those rare “win-win” situations for both the player and the team.

So what went wrong? Why all the trade rumors? Nothing is imminent (or so we’re told) but we know that Savard has given the Bruins a list of teams he would approve a trade to.

After the jump, we explore the Marc Savard saga….

He looks so sad!

We feel we also have to offer the following warning, seeing as how taking things out of context or taking opinion and trying to present it as fact is popular during free agency/trade season. We are not saying any of the following is true. We don’t have “sources.” We don’t know anyone in the Bruins organization. These are simply scenarios we are wondering about in our heads.

We figure something must have happened. Why would Savard sign a 7 year deal if he didn’t want to be in Boston? Why would the Bruins sign Savard to a 7 year deal if they didn’t want him to be in Boston? Here’s what we’re thinking:

Posting this picture still hurts.

1) There have been rumors, and we stress the word rumor, that a lot of guys in the locker room and management did not like the way Savard handled himself after the Game 7 loss to the Flyers. Savard was a key player in the late too many men on the ice penalty that resulted in Simon Gagne’s game winning goal.

After the game both Milan Lucic and the departed Vladimir Sobotka took blame for the mishap. Everyone including fans, media and apparently teammates and management expected Savard to come out and at least say “No, that was my fault, I made a mistake and I’m sorry.” But that never came. At times he even acted combative. For a team that is finally demanding accountability across the roster this certainly wouldn’t make Savard look good.

Bad scene man.

2) Perhaps Savard took issue with the way his teammates reacted to the Matt Cooke hit. We all know how that went down. No one did anything to Cooke during the game after Savard went down. Michael Ryder skated up to Cooke and asked him for goal scoring tips, but Cooke was left alone for the most part.

In the return match, in front of the home crowd at the TD Garden, Thornton dished out a little fistic justice at the beginning of the game and earned a game misconduct. Then nothing. Not that there should have been. One of the Bruins pulling a Todd Bertuzzi would have been bad for the team and the sport.

But late in the second Matt Cooke blatantly up ended another Bruin (sorry, we can’t remember who). Cooke purposely took his stick, hooked the legs of the player in question, and pulled. The player predictably went flying as his teammates watched. And then… nothing. Again, the Bruins let him get away with putting one of their teammates in danger.

Maybe everything just left a sour taste in Savard’s mouth. When his teammates saw him lying there on the ice and did nothing, perhaps deep down he was angry. He came out and said he didn’t care, but sometimes people say things like that to look like the bigger man. Perhaps some relationships in the locker room got irreparably fractured and Savard feels it is best to move on. Or perhaps management does.

Ouch my head.

3) Maybe the Bruins are afraid of another Eric Lindros situation. Concussions are incredibly serious, especially when you factor in that hockey is a “violent” sport. Players always get hit, elbows and fists fly in heated exchanges. Savard could be one more head injury away from ending his career.

Eric Lindros was a point per game player, and beyond, before concussions set his career back, leading to him to play for 4 different teams in his final six seasons. Lindros was still a very effective player but was no where near the caliber of player he was before his head injuries.

To a lesser degree, look at Patrice Bergeron. Bergeron was a blossoming star, scoring 70+ points in two straight seasons for Boston. He played 10 games in the 2007-08 season, netting 7 points in 10 games before his infamous injury. He has never been the same player since. Not that he’s a bad player. He’s great at face-offs, a great defensive forward and a beast on the penalty kill. He scored 52 points last season and could be on his way back.

But concussions change players, sometimes permanently. Perhaps Boston brass is nervous the same has happened to Savard, or could happen next time he’s hit hard.

That's a lot of centers....

4) Boston is overloaded at center. This seems like the least likely scenario based on Savard’s past. You don’t ship out your best center just because you have plenty of other centers.

Or maybe the Bruins just have that much faith that Bergeron and Krejci will continue to develop and fill the void Savard would leave. New Bruin Tyler Seguin is open to starting his career on the wing, so the argument that Savard needs to be moved for an as of yet unproven player seems idiotic.

And as of right now, Bergeron and Krejci are not the offensive force that Savard is. Krejci has shown flashes of brilliance and has a 73 point campaign on his resume and was the Bruins best forward before he was injured in the playoffs, but we’re not ready to say we think he can replace Savard.

Starting Savard, Krejci, Bergeron or Seguin (if he makes the team) on the 4th line would be dumb, but again move Seguin to wing and you have the same three starting centers you had last year.

That's a bad Peter! No! Put the pen down...

5) Finally, the Bruins could be shopping Savard simply for salary cap reasons. We think this is the most likely scenario, despite how unfortunate this would be.

As we touched upon the Bruins have centers (Seguin, Bergeron, Krejci) that they probably feel will be ready within the next couple of years. They are strong on defense, have Rask in goal but are weak on the wings. If they want to bring in another winger other than Horton, they need cap space.

Savard could be another casualty of past Bruins poor planning and poor contracts. Kessel wasn’t well liked in the Bruins locker room, but he was looking for $5 million a season and the Bruins didn’t have that so he was traded for a treasure chest of picks.

Right now they have Tim Thomas locked in for another 3 years at $5 million a year, Michael Ryder at another year for $4 million a year and the injured Marco Strum taking up $3.5 million in cap space. Oh, and let’s not forget that awful Ference deal.

Michael Ryder is not going anywhere. He had an awful season last year and openly admitted that he basically dogged it during the regular season and is overpaid for what you get at $4 million. The Bruins would have to take back an equally bad contract just to move him. The chances of moving Ryder are about as good as Bruce Boudreau finishing a marathon without having 8 heart attacks.

Sturm’s knee injury is going to prevent any team from taking him. He may not even be ready to play until December. No way you move a pending free agent in 2010-11 with a severe knee injury who has failed to reach the 30 goal plateau in his career.

A few teams will kick the tires on Thomas but he will be hard to move. Marty Turco and Evgeni Nabokov are about to enter free agency and unlike Thomas they are not coming off a hip injury. When you factor in that Thomas does have 3 years left at $5 million a year, teams may be hesitant to take Thomas’ contract without sending back some money to the Bruins. The goal of clearing cap space by trading Thomas may not be possible unless the Bruins literally take pennies on the dollar for him (not that the return is going to exceptional anyway) for a prospect or marginal NHL player.

So from a contract and performance standpoint, Savard is the most attractive option to teams. His cap hit is great for what you (potentially) get from him. Some teams might be wary considering his concussion issue but Savard is definitely a risk worth taking based on his past performance.

Maybe the Bruins didn’t expect Rask and Krejci to develop like they did and now regret the Thomas and Savard deals. But neither is exactly a proven NHL commodity over a long period of time.

Once again the Bruins handing out bad contracts could force them to move a piece they really shouldn’t. When they moved Kessel, they ended up getting Seguin. That kind of return likely isn’t coming in a Savard trade. But who knows, we’ve seen stranger things happen in the NHL.

We don’t want to see Savard moved here at Days Of Y’Orr, but if the 5th scenario is true like we guess, the Bruins may not have a choice. Savard is certainly the Bruins most attractive asset on the trade market. We hope to see him in a Bruins jersey next season but that is seeming less and less likely as the days pass. Should be an interesting, and potentially depressing, next few days/weeks here for black and gold fans.

Bruins management’s past contract mistakes are certainly coming back to haunt them and this time it could cost them Marc Savard.

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