Savard and Horton, One In the Same?

Nathan Horton (Photo Credit: Steph Phillips)

For the past year the Bruins have had only one player listed on injured reserves, that being center Marc Savard. Marc suffered a grade two concussion back in March of 2010 and has never been the same since. Prior to the incident with Penguins forward Matt Cooke, Savard had registered 10 goals and 23 assists for 33 points in just 41 games played. There is no question he is an important asset to the Bruins Organization.  He was able to make a brief debut last season, playing in 25 games with 10 points, but all it took was one hit, one clean hit and he went down.

“He made a great play to [Michael Ryder] in front on the net, then he got hit,” explained Julien. “It was just a clean hit and he went down.(via Boston Bruins Official Website)

The prognosis at that point in time seemed clear, he was simply shook up and they were taking precaution. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Savard has missed the last 106 games, dealing with post concussion symptoms, still with no time table for a return. While he has stated he doesn’t want to retire, one has to wonder if the choice is still there, or if his fate has already been decided for him.

Concussions are the most dangerous injury a hockey player can endure and are increasing rapidly in the midst of the 2011-2012 season, becoming more popular than Bieber Fever.

When one suffers a concussion, the brain suddenly shifts or shakes inside the skull and can knock against the skull’s bony surface. A hard hit to the body can result in an acceleration-deceleration injury when the brain brushes against bony protuberances inside the skull. Such forces can also result in a rotational injury in which the brain twists, potentially causing shearing of the brain nerve fibers. It is not yet known exactly what happens to brain cells in a concussion, but the mechanism appears to involve a change in chemical function.(via Brain Fit Lab)

While the Bruins have tried to fill Savard’s shoes on the power play, they still struggle without him, despite efforts from the dynamic duo Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic. The dark horse in the room now is, will Horton be following in the same footsteps?

Horton suffered a severe concussion back in the beginning of June 2011 stemming from a hit by Aaron Rome in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. He would go on to miss the rest of the play-offs and make his debut back on opening night of the 2011-2012 season. Although he was back on the ice, he wasn’t the same player he had been in years past. His timing and rhythm was off and the dynamic duo was lacking the drive and determination that had helped carry them to the Final. It wasn’t until January 17 that he seemed to come out of his funk, scoring two out of the three goals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Just as he was starting to get his groove back he gets side-lined again, this time with a mild concussion, suffered by a high hit from Flyer’s Tom Sestito.

The plus side is that the side effects from suffering a mild concussion are more likely to go away in a timely manner than if he were to have suffered a moderate or another severe concussion. The down side, this is his second brain injury in just over six months.  While there is still some hope in the near future for Horton, the main concern is will his game suffer again or will he be able to pick up where he left off? Unfortunately, only time will tell.

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