BOSTON — When Marc Savard suffered his first serious concussion as a Bruin last March, there was no difficulty in assigning blame.
Pittsburgh's Matt Cooke had a lengthy rap sheet of offenses from having habitually crossed the line in attempts to injure opponents, and his blindside cheap shot on Savard was right in line with his predatory nature. Blaming, and even hating, Cooke was an obvious and justifiable reaction for Bruins teammates and fans.
And it may have even been a little cathartic to have an obvious villain to direct that vitriol toward.
But Savard's latest concussion offers no such easy clarity. The man who hit him this time was a friend and former teammate. And Colorado defenseman Matt Hunwick's hit was completely clean and legal, a point even Savard went out of his way to stress on Monday.
"Matt's contacted me already," Savard said. "He feels terrible, but that one wasn't his fault at all. I was skating fast for once it felt like, and he just finished his check."
The fact that the hit was clean doesn't help Savard much. He still will miss the rest of the season. And it hasn't helped assuage the guilt felt by Hunwick either.
"He's already contacted me twice, actually," Savard said. "The first time was just to tell me that he felt awful and that he felt sick the rest of the game. He had trouble playing. But then he contacted me again. So it was a tough incident, but I don't think that one was a bad hit at all."
Savard stated that he remembered the hit clearly, and while the effects have obviously been devastating, it didn't compare to how he felt after Cooke's cheap shot.
"I do remember the hit," Savard said. "When I got hit, I had a quick blackout and then obviously I lost all my energy that I had at that point in the game and I felt weak. It was nothing compared to the other one."
But this hit will still cost Savard the rest of the season, at the least. And there's not even an easy villain to blame, just a routine hockey play with horrible, unintended consequences.