Steve Simmons came ever-so-close to backtracking on his controversial comments about Marc Savard, but the Toronto Sun writer just couldn’t do it.
Simmons recently criticized Savard for joining the media after years of being virtually unreachable. Seemingly unsympathetic to the fact that the ex-Boston Bruins star was suffering from severe post-concussion symptoms, Simmons faced widespread backlash for the comments, including from Savard himself.
The Canadian sports journalist finally explained himself in a column published Saturday evening, but his “apology” might not go over well with Savard or Bruins fans — or anyone, for that matter.
Here’s Simmons’ attempt to clarify his comments:
When I first saw Marc Savard on television a while back, I was distressed about it, for the same reason I get disappointed when I see Bill Parcells or Jim Rice or John Tortorella or others who have treated the media with a certain disdain winding up in media positions on television or radio. If you don’t care for media, I’ve always thought, don’t be part of it.
Last week in this space, I wrote 27 words on Savard, the wrong 27 words it turned out, as I found out from the pointed and nasty reaction on social media. I personally don’t like the way he ignored the emails from a Hall of Fame writer from the Boston Globe over the years, or the calls from the late Steve Harris from the Boston Herald, or other attempts to talk to him — USA Today, Globe and Mail, and many others tried — after his career ended early with the Boston Bruins when other media members would see him in rinks while coaching minor hockey and he would barely say hello. That’s my opinion.
I understand he had, and may still, have concussion issues. I particularly understand his battles with mental health issues. For more than 20 years, I have battled anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, claustrophobia: You don’t ever completely understand how this can take over your life until you experience it yourself.
What I wrote about Savard had nothing to do with concussions or his personal battles. But what I wrote about him was improperly worded and far too harsh. For that, I apologize. For not welcoming new media members who have treated the industry disrespectfully, I don’t apologize.
At long last, the search for the media’s gatekeeper is over.
Listen: Is Simmons entitled to his opinion? Absolutely. And unless you’ve had similar first-hand experience with Savard since his career ended, you probably should, at the very least, allow for the possibility that Simmons has a point.
Still, Savard, as much as anyone, probably deserves some slack after what he’s been through. And given his own account of mental health issues, Simmons (you’d think) would be well-positioned to give Savard a break.
But hey, to each his own.
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