The Marc Savard Situation

By David Glaz

Flames Forward Marc Savard has seen his entire season become mired in controversy. All seemed to be going well for Savard in Calgary going into the season, but he’s had a dismal year up to this point; he’s had a clash with the system the team plays; disgruntled over being bumped of star player Jarome Iginla’s line, and has constantly quarreled with coach Greg Gilbert. Savard is an offensively gifted player on an offensively starved team, and he should be a tremendous part of the group, but he’s not. Now its up to GM Craig Button to decide whether its worth it to keep Savard and try to resolve the situation, or deal the most marketable of your expendable players to help shore up extremely the poor depth up front.

Four games into the season Savard was kneed by Detroit winger Darren McCarty, and sustained a knee injury that kept him out of the lineup for six weeks. In his absence Iginla was paired with Craig Conroy and the two, along with Roman Turek, carried the team to a 13-2-2 start. When Savard came back, the team started to slump. It was unsure what do with Savard, because of the success Iginla and Conroy had enjoyed.

Eventually, Iginla was primarily kept on Conroy’s line and Savard was forced to play with less talented linemates, and saw his
production drop accordingly. Last year Savard enjoyed a career year, scoring 65 points, but his shortcomings, namely poor defensive play, were overlooked. Savard was a +12 last season, but his lack of commitment to the defensive game really came under scrutiny this year now that he has only 18 points in 33 games. In December, Savard went public with his desire to be dealt, but after talks with Gilbert and Button the situation appeared resolved.

However, the saga continues. Savard is still butting heads with Coach Gilbert and his unwillingness to adapt to the system has seen him scratched for a few games, and when he does see action, he’s sometimes placed on the fourth line and sees less than 9 minutes a game. When on his game Savard creates a lot offense and is a feisty pest. However, lately he’s been guilty of taking many bad penalties and his defensive play still leaves something to be desired.

So the question is where do the Flames and Savard go from here? Savard still has lots of value at the tender age of 24, regardless of his recent trails. The Flames as a team have been struggling in nearly all aspects of the game, but their very poor offense and pathetic reliance on Iginla for offense that has become the most glaring and scrutinized problem. While Savard is great offensively, it’s a formality to many that he’s going to be dealt soon. So do the Flames deal Marc Savard? Calgary has good depth at center with the two way play of Conroy, Clarke Wilm is an excellent defensive center, and while Rob Niedermayer hasn’t produced as expected, he’s contributed and proven his worth in other ways. Niedermayer is out for another six weeks as a result of an injury, and that is another factor in the possible dealing of Savard.

If Calgary were to not acquire a similar player to Marc Savard in a deal, they would lack what every team needs; a pure offensive talent to dish the puck from the center position. Savard could command a decent return, and if packaged could command a good offensively player in return, but it’s up to the discretion of Craig Button to decide whether to keep Savard or not.