October 28th, 2002


Sayonara Savy

He Said - He Said Soap Opera Comes to a Close

AP Photo

Savard-Saga Over: Craig Button has finally found Marc Savard a home.
D'Arcy McGrath


It's over ... Marc Savard and the Calgary Flames can part company.

An 11 month off ice distraction can be put to bed.

The Flames can hopefully re-find their touch on the ice.

And a certain Calgary beat writer can go back to writing stories that don't serve to drive a further wedge into an already difficult situation.

Many trades in the National Hockey League can catch a hockey fan off guard ... in fact, in Calgary, with its tight lipped general manager it's often the rule.

Not this time.

This trade has been in the works since Marc Savard first asked for a trade back in December of 2001. 

Why did it take so long?

Market value, plain and simple.

Craig Button and the Flames brain trust didn't like the offers they were getting back then ... chances are they were less than pleased with the offers received this week. So why deal him now? Because his market value was only going in one direction, which can clearly be seen with the acquisition of Ruslan Zainullin, an interesting prospect, but a player that has bounded from Tampa to Phoenix to Atlanta to Calgary in less than two years.

When a player wants out of town the best way to get his wish is to attract other clubs by playing well. This was hard to do with a) Savard sitting in the press box and b) Savard displaying his shortcomings when on the ice. 

Add in a less than stellar fitness report and tight relationship with a very willing sports journalist and well the rest is history.

The sad thing? It didn't have to be this way.

Marc Savard was never going to reach the height of 6'2", the typical proportions for a man that fills a top two line center role in the National Hockey League.

He was never going to find the leg speed to perfectly mesh with his wingers or the Flames system.

Given his personality he was never going to get a "C" or an "A" stitched on his jersey here or in any hockey city.

But that doesn't matter.

A team is made up of many personalities. Many types of players.

Often in a case like Savard's, the media and the fans from the departing city will toss that chemistry killing "Cancer" term out when a player leaves.

That just wasn't the case with Savard.

He was a well liked guy. Goofy at times ... grating at times, but a guy that could and should have followed the lead and stayed out of trouble.

Unlike the departure of other players like a Theo Fleury or Val Bure ... don't expect some disparaging remarks from Flames players in the wake of his exit. His teammates were more sad than angry with #27. Saddened that the guy seemed lost ... didn't seem to get it ... and as a result was wasting a boot full of obvious talent.

Like most battles between two individuals, there is rarely a "right" person or a "wrong" person, and in this case both Savard and coach Greg Gilbert deserve their share of the blame.

No one should question Gilbert's offence to some of Savard's doings - on or off the ice - but maybe if that boot wasn't stuck so far up Savard's derriere that first time, the relationship could have been salvaged. Now we'll never know.

From here both sides will go their own ways.

Greg Gilbert has more on ice talent to fiddle with this year, making Savard's exit less of a loss despite their recent inability to score goals.

But for Savard the slippery slope has now been greased, and he and only he can stem the tide of a career that looks to be running away.

From being imprisoned in a locker with the Rangers to a messy divorce with the Flames, Savard has been anything but easy to handle thus far in his career. The NHL has a distinct path for players that continue to fall into these traps. First you move from a drafted team to a team out of the playoffs looking to capitalize on talent, even if misguided (Rangers to Calgary). If you fail there you move to a team further down the standings in a city where hockey isn't the focus (see Atlanta for Savard, Florida for Bure).

He's a colorful guy, here's hoping he finds his way.

Roster Move to Come

The deal has an interesting ripple effect for the Flames.

By dealing a roster player (press box player) for a prospect, the Flames have effectively dropped their squad from the NHL limit of 23 down to 22.

Quite likely there has already been a call made to Saint John, but which player received the good news tonight?

Oleg Saprykin leads the team in scoring, but is only three weeks removed from a messy attempted exit from the organization that blew up in his face leaving his tail between his legs.

Mathew Lombardi has been a very pleasant surprise, but the QJMHL star has only six weeks of professional hockey experience.

Another option is Blair Betts, a guy that had a solid camp but was crowded out when natural centers Chris Drury and Stephane Yelle were acquired from the Avalanche.

Whoever they call ... lets hope that certain beat writer doesn't have them on speed dial.


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