Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Comes Early for Bruins Fans: Marc Savard to Ink 7-yr Extension

If he hasn't done so already...no official announcement from the team has been released yet.

TSN.ca reported that Bruins pivot Marc Savard has agreed to a seven-year extension that will carry a $4.2- 4.5 million cap hit per annum.

This is fantastic news not only because the 32-year-old center is essentially locked up with the B's for the remainder of his career, but also it appears to be the kind of cap-friendly deal which will allow GM Peter Chiarelli to add other key components to a potential championship puzzle in the coming years if true.

Savard is as talented a playmaking center as any in the NHL, and his absence from the lineup for a month with a broken foot really underscored Boston's struggles in October and early November. Now that he's back and rounding into form, he'll be the team's offensive catalyst for the long haul.

I have to admit- I was skeptical when the B's signed him in July of 2006. I had been stationed in the Atlanta area when he was with the Thrashers and I got to know him a bit. While I could clearly see his natural talent on display there, he at times appeared to be disinterested, borderline lazy and wasn't the most accomodating guy off the ice either. It seemed at the time to be a bad fit, and I had visions of a Savard flameout in the Hub.

Needless to say, I was intrigued at a visible change in him when I covered Bruins training camp for the New England Hockey Journal in 2006. He was relaxed, engaging, insightful and impressive on the ice. He went on to post 96 points that season, thus far his best single season output with the B's ironically in what was one of the worst team performances in memory. Since then, Savard has become Boston's most consistent offensive performer, and last year, he took his defensive game up a notch as well.

To have him wearing the black and gold in perpetuity at this stage of his life, Savard has truly found a home in Boston. At least, one that he felt strongly enough about to give up on another opportunity to field offers as an unrestricted free agent.

For years, Savard was the pro hockey equivalent of that black sheep family member you've perhaps had; you know- the one who has a world of talent and can do anything they set their mind to, but for some reason, seems content to perform well below their capabilities and often demonstrates lapses in judgment and maturity that are impossible to fathom.

In his three-plus years with the team, Savard grew up in Beantown, and the grudging respect with which he's won over pundits who once took delight in skewering him for, is telling. Many expected him to fail in the city's blue-collar pro sports environment, but instead he flourished and finally lived up to the enormous potential he flashed as a scoring machine for the OHL's Oshawa Generals 15 years ago.

As for Boston, having a top-three center trio which includes David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron gives them the kind of strength up the middle that not many other NHL teams can boast. If Peter Chiarelli can add a legitimate scoring presence to the wing, this team will be a handful.

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