Marc Savard happy in rejoining Bruins

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins forward Marc Savard was back on the ice with his teammates Saturday morning at TD Garden, one day after he was cleared to participate in practice with no contact.

The Bruins had just concluded their game-day skate in preparation for their game against the Los Angeles Kings when Savard led the post-skate stretch at center ice. Afterward, he spoke about his bout with post-concussion syndrome that has kept him sidelined all season.

"It felt unbelievable [to skate]," he said. "It's been a long time. It's pretty special to make this step, and hopefully gradually get better and go from there."

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said recently he has a target date set for Savard's return, but decided to keep it personal because things could change.

Savard said he's felt "fantastic" the last couple of weeks and he hasn't felt any ill effects from the post-concussion syndrome.

Seeing No. 91 on the ice is just another indication he's close to returning.

"That was reinforced this morning by hearing him chirp in the dressing room, something we haven't heard in a few months, so obviously he's back to normal," said coach Claude Julien. "He's definitely happy to be back. We're happy to have him back.

"A happy Savvy is usually a good Savvy, so hopefully he keeps going in the right direction and we can get him back in a game capacity sooner than later."

Once Savard is cleared to return to game action, the Bruins will need to get creative in order to fit his salary under the cap. On the ice, his contributions will be an added bonus to a team that has played well all season without him.

"There's a couple of areas I can still help a bit," he said with a smile. "It's been great seeing the guys playing well. I think that's been the easiest thing for me is to have time to get better and then work on my stuff that I need to work on and clearing my head so I am ready to go.

"The way they've been playing is fantastic and hopefully I can just fit in quietly and go about what I do best and help the team win in some area."

Off the ice, Savard also had to cope with a bout of depression. He said it was really tough, and credits his teammates for helping him through it.

"I had my days obviously that were really tough where I was unsure about my future in the game," he said. "My teammates were incredible."

Savard suffered a Grade 2 concussion in March when he was on the receiving end of a blindside hit by the Penguins' Matt Cooke. Savard was able to return in time for the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers.

When Savard first informed the Bruins in August of his symptoms, no one knew at the time if he would be able to return. There was a possibility that his season, and even his career, was in jeopardy if he did not heal properly.

The Bruins were cautious and it finally looks like Savard will be back sooner rather than later.

"This is the game I grew up playing, I loved and love," he said. "I think that love went away for a bit because I wasn't sure about anything. Obviously now I've had time to heal and I can't wait to get back out there with the guys and play some games."

During Savard's ordeal, he also received encouragement from a trusted source.

"The fans, they've been great," he said. "I've gotten a lot of really nice letters. It really helped me through this time and I appreciate that stuff."

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.