Marc Savard wishes he could still play, will donate brain to science

John E. Sokolowski / Reuters

After a career cut short by multiple head injuries, former Boston Bruins forward Marc Savard plans to have his brain posthumously donated to science to benefit concussion research.

Savard opened up to The Boston Globe's Stan Grossfeld in a lengthy interview published Thursday, in which he recounted his final concussion, talked about life after the NHL, and expressed disappointment about his career's premature end.

"I'm 39," he said. "I still should be playing, right? I miss it. I was an intense player when I played. I just miss the competition."

Savard decided to donate his brain so it can be studied for possible effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease that's been found in former NFL and NHL players, as well as wrestlers - all of whom endured repeated head trauma.

He was limited to 25 regular season games in his final season of 2010-11, and didn't appear in a 2011 playoff game for the Bruins, who went on to win the Stanley Cup.

"Just not to be able to be on the ice with the guys, knowing that I could contribute, was probably the toughest thing," he said.

The sixth and final concussive blow to Savard's head came on a hit by then-Colorado Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick.

"I got down on my knees there and I just saw pitch black with my eyes open, and I can remember (trainer) Donny (DelNegro) coming out," he recalled. "I said, 'Donny, I don't know what's wrong here, but I'm dying. I can't see anything.' And my eyes were open, so I was quite scared there."

Savard spent parts of 14 seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Calgary Flames, Atlanta Thrashers, and Bruins.

He's now coaching minor hockey in Peterborough, Ontario, and while he wishes he could still be playing, he appears satisfied teaching the game to others.

"The good thing is that I'm helping kids today - earlier than I should have - get better at the game that gave me everything I have."

Savard is still under contract with the New Jersey Devils, who acquired his rights from the Florida Panthers in June, but if and when he officially hangs up the skates, he knows which organization he'll do it with.

"I'd love to retire a Bruin," he said.

Marc Savard wishes he could still play, will donate brain to science
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