Just in the last 24-48 hours, there has been lots of good news in the Boston pro sports scene. Tom Brady got the AP Offensive Player of the Year award, his longtime head coach Bill Belichick got the NFL Coach of the Year award (for the third time in his career), and the Boston Celtics deservedly got four players (Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett) selected to the upcoming NBA All-Star Game.
Last night was even better, as the Boston Bruins, taking on the Dallas Stars, had the best start to a hockey game I’ve ever seen in my 30 years, engaging in three fights in the first four seconds, scoring two goals in under two minutes, and getting in a fourth fight (via Andrew Ference) before the four-minute mark was up.
The Bruins thrilled the sold out TD Garden crowd, winning the game 6-3. Everyone in the building (not affiliated with Dallas) went home happy feeling good about themselves, except for Bruins forward Daniel Paille, who was on the team last March when Pittsburgh Penguins goon Matt Cooke made a tragic blindside hit on Marc Savard, causing a concussion that plagues him to this day.
Last night, Paille made a similar costly mistake of hitting Dallas player Raymond Sawada while his head was down, making a blindside hit to his shoulder and face. Sawada suffered just a sprained shoulder and broken nose, but it could’ve been worse. Today, Paille rightfully got suspended for four games (but could’ve gotten a few more).
Paille should have known better given the Savard situation almost one year ago. He could’ve caused a severe, Savard-like concussion and knows it.
The Bruins, meanwhile, are evaluating Savard’s health this weekend in the wake of he suffered a second concussion via another hit to the head, this time into the boards, by ex-teammate Matt Hunwick of the Colorado Avalanche almost a couple of weeks ago now.It wasn’t a dirty hit and Hunwick was not penalized for it.
Yet, since Savard was still not 100% back to form from his post-concussion syndrome, the fact that he suffered another brain injury from a legal and clean hit like this should just leave team officials and medical personnel to conclude that Savard needs to call if a season to let his head heal for as long as possible. His career and quality of life are not worth risking just to play hockey.
The Boston Globe recently said GM Peter Chiarelli thinks this is a real possibility, and it is the only sensible option at this point. If that means Chiarelli has to trade for a veteran scoring center to replace him, that’s a tough task given the salary cap ramifications, but there’s still time to make such a move.
Getting Savard fully healthy, not for this season but for next year and many years to come, should be Boston’s first priority.
UPDATE Sunday, February 6: NESN reports that Savard will indeed be shut down for the remainder of the season.