Monday was a disappointing day in the National Hockey League. Marc Savard's decision to end his season entirely, and focus his attention on getting his health back after sustaining the fourth concussion of his career on Jan. 22 in a game against Colorado came as no surprise.
Unfortunately, however, the NHL and the Bruins have now lost one of their premier players. One of the most gifted and talented veterans in the league will not be showing us his remarkable skills for the remainder of the 2010-11 season.
The league already lacks the star power of Sidney Crosby, has missed 14 games as of Tuesday night as he continues to recover from the concussion that has sidelined him for more than a month, and there remains no timetable for a possible return.
Now, the most gifted centerman and playmaker on the Bruins is done.
With the media absolutely exploding on the conversation regarding hits to the head in hockey, the ongoing concussion issue looming over general manager's heads at league meetings, and the Andrew Ference vs. Daniel Paille non-story wrecking havoc throughout the league, the bigger picture has been overlooked.
Marc Savard has an uphill battle to climb, no doubt. He has a family, three children and more life to live than the journey he’s already had. He has a concussion and will not play the rest of the season. Now, can we just let the guy heal and stop asking so many questions?
I am a member of the media, and I am incredibly annoyed at what I have had to read and listen to over the past 48 hours regarding this story. I get it, trust me. Years in this business will teach you many things, in particular, what it takes to make headlines in Boston — a sports-crazed town.
I’ve listened to the callers on sports radio, I’ve read the blogs and the newspaper clippings (and believe me, there were a record number of press clipping in my e-mail inbox on Tuesday morning regarding Savard's announcement), and I've spoken to the team and players.
But what I do not understand is why so many people have an opinion on a matter that is bigger than them?
What gives a media critic the right to determine or to question if Savard is ready to hang up his skates for good? What gives someone, who has never played the game of hockey and never experienced what it’s like to be a professional athlete, the right to speculate? How does an angry fan who calls into sports talk radio justify their personal opinion to tell Savard to retire?
We all have our life experience to tell us what we personally would do if we were in Savard's shoes.
But none of us are there.
NESN carried Savard's press conference live on Monday. I listened intently to every single question asked of Savard, general manager Peter Chiarelli and team physician Dr. Peter Asnis.
I cringed once, when a reporter asked Savard if he’s contemplating retirement.
"I'm trying to stay away from that right now," Savard said. "It's tough enough as it is not to be able to finish the season. Obviously, we’re going to get some more medical stuff done, some tests, and then I'll be able to make a clearer decision on what my future is."
Regardless of what Savard’s decision is in the future, it’s none of our business.The decision, when relevant, will happen behind closed doors with Savard's family. The public announcement will come shortly thereafter.
In the meantime, why ask? To make headlines? Why ask a player who is clearly frustrated, sad, emotional and devastated if his career is over? I understand the reasoning behind a reporter asking it professionally, but I don't understand the human side.
There are times when you have to put the professional in you aside, and realize that life is bigger than the top story and headlines. Life is more about someone's personal struggles and their ability to overcome them, than our own personal reward.
To look someone in the eye who is clearly at a crossroad and suffering, and ask them if they think their life as they know it and their dreams are over, is simply pathetic.
And to speculate for days thereafter is just wrong.
Allow Marc Savard the time to heal, to have a moment with his family and to become the person he was prior to the injury he sustained. Allow Marc Savard to live his life without thinking about the questions he has to answer regarding his career plans.The healing process for a traumatic concussion is unlike anything many of us have ever experienced. On top of that, we are well aware of Savard's depression concerns. Asking him about his plan post-recovery is like asking us where we’ll all be in 10 years.
We have no idea. And neither does he.
I wish Bill Belichick had answered the questions for Savard on Monday afternoon. "I'm just focused on this week, nothing else."
Marc Savard's recovery will require each day to be taken one at a time. No one asked Patrice Bergeron if he contemplated retirement. And Sidney Crosby surely hasn't taken that question from reporters, either.
Mark Recchi said it best on Monday, when asked if he thinks Savard should retire.
"I think he’s got a lot to think about, but I think the most important thing is right now that he focuses on just getting better. Getting healthy, and then he can be a little bit more clear on his decisions and whether he wants to continue or not."
End of discussion.
If you want to ask Marc Savard about retirement, ask one his teammates instead. You'll get a much better answer.