Bruins, Savard officially part ways

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins officially parted ways with Marc Savard.

On Wednesday, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney informed Savard, who has not played since Jan. 22, 2011, because of post-concussion syndrome, that his $4 million per season contact was picked up by the Florida Panthers as part of a trade.

The Bruins acquired forward Jimmy Hayes from the Panthers in exchange for forward Reilly Smith and Savard's contract. Sweeney spoke with Savard on Wednesday.

"I was happy for him because he sounded like he was in a much better place," Sweeney said. "It was obviously devastating to him. He was a foundational player for us in turning things around. We were grateful for that. It wasn't fun to see him go through what he had to go through. He's coming out the other side and he's in a better place for himself."

Savard was on the receiving end of a blind-side, open-ice hit by then-Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke on March 7, 2010. Savard missed nearly four months before returning during the Eastern Conference semifinals that season against the Philadelphia Flyers and played all seven games.

He began to experience symptoms of depression and post-concussion syndrome that summer and did not return to game action until Dec. 9, 2010. He played only 25 games before he suffered another concussion in January that ended his career.

During Sweeney's conversation with Savard on Wednesday, he said he has been feeling better.

"He said his golfing is coming around. He's not having as many headaches and setbacks and things," Sweeney said. "From his life perspective, quality of life, things are much better. I was so happy to hear that for him. But he was a huge part of what we wanted to do and get us in a position to turn this thing around, and today was an opportunity for us to have some more flexibility and he was understanding of that and I appreciated that from him, because he's a great guy."

The Bruins signed Savard as a free agent on July 1, 2006. The talented centerman played five seasons for the Bruins and accumulated 74 goals and 231 assists for 305 points in 304 games. Despite missing half of the championship season in 2011, the Bruins still had his name etched onto the Stanley Cup.

His contract will expire after the 2016-2017 season.

"We missed him in the locker room. We missed him on the ice and hopefully he can continue to get better in his own life," Sweeney said. "We think the world of him and we thanked him for his time as a player and we obviously wish him the best in his own life."

Savard has stayed out of the spotlight but occasionally will express his thoughts on Twitter. On Wednesday, he tweeted: "Thanks to all my fans for the nice tweets and tremendous support over the years. I'm gonna miss the greatest sporting city in the world!!"