Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced in a conference call Tuesday morning that injured Bruins center Marc Savard  has been cleared to play and will be available to the team in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. The center sustained a Grade 2 concussion on March 7 after a hit from the Penguins ‘ Matt Cooke  and was carted from the ice. Savard was cleared on Monday afternoon by an independent neuro-physician and was checked by Bruins team doctors. Savard passed his final neuropsychological exam on Monday and will have a couple of days of practice with the team before the next round of the playoffs begin later this week.
“First I’d like to announce that Marc Savard has been cleared to play,” Chiarelli said. “I’ll leave it up to Claude [Julien ] as far as putting the lines together and who plays and who doesn’t play, but Marc is ready to go, and we’ll see how his conditioning goes. But I know from talking to him he’s very anxious to play.”
Chiarelli likened the return of Savard to a trade-deadline acquisition.
“He is an elite player and he has been chomping at the bit to play,” Chiarelli said. “The fact that we were able to clinch and give him some time to get acclimated and a little practice is going to be very beneficial to Savvy and to the team, and, you know, obviously he’s a terrific offensive player. You have seen his performances in playoffs, he really works on the two-way side of his game during the playoffs, and it is like a trade-deadline acquisition and we are adding, obviously, a very good player for the next series.”
Chiarelli said he was not surprised by the turnaround that Savard made in coming back from such a severe concussion. He said there was a distinct difference between Savard and Patrice Bergeron , who sustained a Grade 3 concussion on Oct. 27, 2007, when he was hit from behind by Philadelphia’s Randy Jones . Bergeron missed the the rest of the 2007-08 season and was not symptom-free until June 2008. By comparison, Savard only has missed a little more than a month and a half.
“I use Patrice as a reference point when I saw Patrice, and this is my layman’s analysis, when I saw Patrice after his concussion and when I saw [Savard] after his, there was a big difference,” Chiarelli said. “Obviously they were both very severe, but as I saw [Savard] recuperate, a lot of things happened more quickly than it did for Patrice. There was some doubt at some points in time because he still had that glazed look, but then these things turn, they don’t recover in the same way as a torn ligament or separated shoulder. They turn quickly, and you see that happened with Marc and you could see a real change. So, when I saw that, I had a pretty good idea that he would be back and we could stretch it out.”