Marc Savard Knows Ex-Bruins Teammate Nathan Horton’s Pain, Has Advice

Nathan Horton is faced with a life-changing decision: Have surgery on his degenerative back injury or continue suffering through extensive pain that prohibits him from playing hockey at age 29.

If anyone can relate to Horton’s predicament, it’s Marc Savard.

Savard, now 37 years old, played with Horton on the Boston Bruins and was the victim of Matt Cooke’s bad hit that ultimately ended his career.

Savard tried to return to the NHL but found he couldn’t perform at the same level. Just 25 games into the 2010-11 season, he suffered another concussion and hasn’t seen ice time since.

“It’s (a) shock to the system,” Savard told The Hockey News. “You’re so used to doing one thing your whole life and it’s all you really know and you’re not prepared for anything else, then all of a sudden for no apparent reason, it’s over.”

If Horton chooses to have the surgery, he will be paid $32.1 million by the Columbus Blue Jackets in retirement. Savard, who is on the Bruins’ long-term injured reserve list, will have been paid $14 million when his contract expires after 2016-17. But no one wants to be paid not to play hockey.

“Money isn’t everything when it comes to happiness,” Savard said. ” You want to play for as long as you can. Sometimes I still can’t believe I’m not playing hockey anymore. I thought I would be playing until I was at least 40. It takes a long time to get over, and I’m still not really over it. I miss the game, but I’m a little more at peace.”

There is as much an emotional component to this decision as a physical one, and Savard has some insight that might help Horton choose: “At the end of the day, he’s going to want to be able to play with his kids and just do the things a dad does. That would be the most important thing I’d tell him if I talked to him.”

Thumbnail photo via Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports Images

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