With a Tweet and a screenshot, Marc Savard’s NHL career officially came to an end.
It was all a formality, of course. Savard’s career has effectively been over for the better part of a decade, since the moment when former Bruin Matt Hunwick crunched his head off the boards in Denver.
However, there was an element of finality to Savard’s Tweet on Monday. He’s officially done, and it’s time for the next chapter.
That next chapter should begin here, with a coaching or player development role in the Boston Bruins organization.
Sure, it may seem a bit premature. It’s hard to look at Savard and not get nostalgic, remembering those no-look passes and wicked wrist shots and seeing #91 flying around the ice.
He hasn’t coached at a high level yet, and it’s a valid argument to say that Marc Savard the elite playmaker won’t automatically transform into Marc Savard the elite coach; see Gretzky, Wayne.
But Savard possess a number of things that would translate well into a coaching role.
What made Savard great was elite talent. The guy could thread the puck through a maze of sticks and legs right onto his teammate’s stick while looking in the other direction. Natural talent was truly a gift (not to say he didn’t work hard to get where he went), so some may fear it’d be hard for Savard to teach what came naturally to him.
However, it’s easy to forget just how far Savard came as a player over the course of his NHL career, and that’s invaluable experience that would do wonders for young players.
Savard’s career ended with him having the reputation of being one of the NHL’s elite playmakers. He was a power play master, had a great shot and could play in all three zones.
That’s a long way from where he was when he entered the NHL; hell, it’s a long way from where he was as an Atlanta Thrasher.
Savard’s career arc wasn’t exactly a straight line to the top. His career had fits and starts in New York, in Calgary. He finally hit his stride in Atlanta. Even then, he had a reputation as a flopper, a diver, an embellisher.
He kind of acted like a more pesky Brad Marchand, yapping at the refs and yapping at opponents and yapping at pretty much everyone else who moved.
Remember the whole Colin Campbell “little fake artist” email scandal? Campbell allegedly said Savard “puts his whining ahead of the game.” That’s the reputation Savard had in the early years of his prime.
Now think about how he was viewed when his career ended. When he came to Boston, Savard buckled down and more than lived up to his big contract. He bought into Claude Julien’s two-way game and accepted a leadership-type role with gusto.
Sure, he wasn’t as visible and vocal a leader as someone like Zdeno Chara. However, there’s no denying that Savard grew dramatically as a member of the Bruins, and played a major role in turning the Bruins from also-rans to Cup contenders.
So...how does that all translate to today?
Savard would bring a positive attitude, unreal offensive eye and wealth of wisdom to a coaching role. Why not make it in Boston?
A player development role, where Savard could work with young players and help them learn the on- and off-ice ropes, would be great. If you’re talking on-ice roles, bring Savard in as an assistant coach or as a power play coach.
The man knows his way along the half-wall. Imagine the benefits guys like Ryan Spooner or Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson could reap from picking his brain on a regular basis?
There are obstacles, of course. Savard has younger kids and probably wouldn’t be keen on picking up his family and moving to Boston. He has no real professional coaching experience, and may need to start smaller.
But it’s worth a shot. Savard would be a great ambassador for the game and would be a great offensive mind to have in the organization.
If the Bruins aren’t the ones to give him a shot, chances are another team will before too long.