BOSTON — Marc Savard is back in Boston. Just don't expect him back on the ice too soon.
The injured Bruins center broke his silence Saturday morning, speaking publicly for the first time since the end of last season to update his ongoing struggles with post-concussion syndrome symptoms. And with both his somber demeanor and his words, Savard made it clear he still faces a long road back in his recovery.
"I'm not close to 100 percent yet, but it's good to be back and be around the guys," said Savard.
"I think this is my third concussion and this was a really bad one," added Savard later in his 10-minute session with a scrum of about 30 reporters around his stall in the Bruins locker room. "Just everyday life hasn't been normal, so I want to make sure that's normal before I start thinking about playing a game. I obviously love the game and hockey's close to my heart, but right now I just want to make sure I'm myself before I think about playing hockey."
Savard was initially injured on a viscous blindside hit by Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke on March 7. He returned nearly two months later and played the entire Philadelphia series in the second round of the playoffs, though he admits now that may have been a mistake.
"I'm obviously still a little ways away," said Savard. "I'm going to take my time here, make sure I'm good. I think on my own fault I might have come back too soon a little too early last year. That's my own fault. I guess the hockey player in me just wanted to be around and play in the playoffs. Right now I'm just going to take it slow, be around the guys and hopefully get my health where I need it to be."
Savard stated he was worn down in that playoff series, especially when his ice-time rose after David Krejci was injured in Game 3.
"I had huge fatigue problems during that series," said Savard. "I think when Kreech got hurt that really hurt me, especially Game 4 when I played 27 minutes. I pretty much didn't sit with you guys after that. I didn't have anything left. I tried, but now I know – someone relayed to me, like a doctor did and he just said if you have knee issues and you come back early and just play through it, but your brain and your head, I guess I learned it probably wasn't the best thing to do. This time I just have to make sure I'm ready."
Still, Savard tried to fight his way through the lingering symptoms through the summer, working out in his Ontario home until he finally had to stop.
"I just kind of went home after the season, took a month off and from there I started working out," said Savard. "Everything was going really well. I had some issues during workouts and I just kept quiet I guess and just kept going. Then in early August I was with my agent, playing golf and I finally started telling him what was going on and it went from there."
As for the specific symptoms Savard is dealing with, he has just about all the classic post-concussion problems, including dizzy spells, nausea, headaches and depressions.
"I've had issues with everything so far," said Savard, who stated the depression has been the toughest thing to deal with.
"Just some post-concussion things, some dizzy spells and some tough days with some things, everyday kind of stuff that I normally do that I'm having trouble with," added Savard. "So I just have to take care and hope everything gets better."
Savard failed his neuro-testing at the start of training camp on Friday, Sept. 17, and will still have to pass those tests to get back on the ice.
"I did another one of those impact tests and I failed that, so that wasn't a good start," said Savard. "When I start feeling better I have to do that again, take that test again, then I can start training again."
And despite his setbacks this summer, Savard is determined to make it back. When asked about the ESPNBoston.com report last week that he could miss the entire season, Savard stated he wasn't contemplating that scenario just yet.
"I hope not, that's not what I'm looking at, but I'm definitely going to take my time and make sure that I'm 100 percent in every aspect before I think about playing," said Savard. "That's definitely not a thought. I definitely want to get back, but I'm going to take it step by step."