Long Road for Marc Savard Culminates With Emotional Return to TD Garden

Long Road for Marc Savard Culminates With Emotional Return to TD Garden Marc Savard should be grinning.

That's what former Bruin Lyndon Byers told me after the center's highly anticipated return to the Garden ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night. And, if you know LB, you know that statement was filled with energy and enthusiasm. Not quite a yell but definitely more than a passing comment — Byers may have been grinning himself. And he was 100 percent correct.

We all should be smiling at the return of Savard. The crowd at the TD Garden showered him with a well-deserved standing ovation. And as a hockey fan, there is no question that it's great to see the playmaker back on the ice for the Bruins.

While his name didn't show up on the score sheet at the end of evening's affair with the Lighting, there was plenty of offensive power that did. It was the Bruins first eight-goal explosion in nearly two years. If that's not an indicator that the locker room was fired up for Savvy's return, I'm not sure what is.

After the game, Savard said, "It was great to be back. The fans were fantastic." He went on to admit, "I got a little emotional, and it was kind of tough to go out on that [first] shift. It was special."

Special, because, hockey aside, there's a greater reason all of our expressions should be turned upward. We're human, and that alone makes the comeback that took place on Thursday worth smiling about.

It was one of the first things Patrice Bergeron said after the game. "It's always great to have a guy like him coming back, especially for his health."

Especially for his health. 

Not just as an athlete, but as a person. After returning to the ice during last season's playoffs, Savard took a turn for the worse over the summer. Post-concussion syndrome impacted not only his training, but his entire life.We have certainly heard plenty about head injuries in recent months to know how serious they must be taken. We have quickly realized that there is so much about concussions that medicine still doesn't understand.

Given the severity of the situation, the Bruins' organization handled Savard's return with great care.  From the onset, every member of the organization stressed caution and an all-hands-on-deck approach.  The timetable for the veteran's return was deliberately slow, and head coach Claude Julien stressed that team approach right up to Thursday night's puck drop.

One game under his belt, Savard acknowledged how much he'd been though, "It's been a long road, that's for sure. I owe a lot of thanks to a lot of people. Everybody has helped me out along the way, and they don't understand how much they've helped me. The fans, too. Just tonight, to top it all off, they're wonderful, and that's one of the reasons I chose to stay here. Hopefully we can reward them with a long playoff run."

A playoff run – now that would bring more smiles. Maybe now that Savard is healthy and back on the ice with his teammates, it's a real possibility.

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