On Hockey

Seguin, naturally, is center of attention

General manager Peter Chiarelli is optimistic that top center Marc Savard won’t be sidelined for an extended period of time. General manager Peter Chiarelli is optimistic that top center Marc Savard won’t be sidelined for an extended period of time. (Winslow Townson/Associated Press)
By Kevin Paul Dupont
September 19, 2010

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We can’t say that the Bruins got off to a rollicking, robust start yesterday when they officially opened their 2010-11 training camp at the Garden. Marc Savard, his head still addled from that nasty Matt Cooke shot to his noggin in March, was back in Peterborough, Ontario, following a day at Massachusetts General Hospital in which he had his head examined by three doctors.

Day One, a brand new season, and the club’s No. 1 scorer designated for an open-ended amount of R&R? That’s the kind of mid-September buzz-kill that keeps the red carpet of optimism rolled up and tucked away in the equipment room.

“He went back home for the weekend,’’ said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, following his club’s morning and afternoon workout sessions on Causeway Street. “We let him go back. He’ll be back at the beginning of the week.’’

Chiarelli disclosed Friday that Savard, whom he attempted to trade over the summer after drafting prized prospect Tyler Seguin, is suffering again with postconcussion syndrome, something that flared up a few weeks into the club’s four-month summer respite.

Just when Savard returns to the pivot is anyone’s guess, because that’s the nature of brain injuries and PCS. Sure, circle a date on the calendar, if that makes you feel better. But it’s usually a waste of time and often only adds to the frustration of an oft-maddening, sometimes frightening, condition.

“He is in good spirits,’’ noted Chiarelli. “And he met with a few of the players [Friday]. I would say it’s a little more than day to day, but we are tracking it well.’’

Meanwhile, a few hundred fans drifted in and out of the ever-chilly Vault, snatching glimpses of veterans and wanna-B’s over the course of four-plus hours. Much of the crowd’s attention was trained on the speedy, darting Seguin, who skated in the second session, riding much of the time on a line that had him flanked by Jeff LoVecchio and Mark Recchi. Seguin was slated to open the camp as a winger, but Savard’s lapse of health turned into a front-and-center audition for the talented 18-year-old.

Day One among the big boys showed Seguin to be fast (no surprise) and with a quick release (yet another trademark of his outstanding junior career). Coach Claude Julien had him riding with Recchi, perhaps the most respected veteran in the entire Original 30, as a means of providing both a cultivating and welcoming environment.

“The way he feels and the way he acts when he is on the ice,’’ mused Julien, noting the bottomless reservoir of Recchi’s enthusiasm, “I don’t know which one is a kid. Skating around the ice, [Recchi] has the big smile on his face like a kid in his first camp.

“We know we’ve got the right guy with Tyler to help him grow. Was that done purposely? It was.’’

Recchi is an old hand in the guiding-hand biz. He was, in his words, “more of an elite player’’ back in his Philadelphia days when Eric Lindros (L’enfant Terrible) arrived as a savior on Broad Street. More recently, he helped nurture the likes of Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal in Pittsburgh, and then Steven Stamkos in Tampa Bay.

Stamkos keeps coming up as the working comparable for Seguin, because of their age, skating style, and appetite for all things offense. It’s an accurate comparison, said Recchi, who was clearly impressed with his latest wunderkind-in-the-works.

“He’s damn fast, and it’s good,’’ said Recchi. “I had to keep up with him — that’s good for me. I mean, he could be my son, so it’s good.

“He is a great skater and it looks like he has great skills. You know I’m going to have some fun with him, and work with him, and like I said it looks like he really wants to learn. He’s asking coaches questions and that’s great.

“If there is anything I see, I’ll help him, but he’s got a pretty high skill level, that’s for sure.’’

If Savard is going to be out a while, that virtually clinches an October roster spot for Seguin. Recchi repeatedly made the point that, unlike Lindros in Philly and Crosby in Pittsburgh, there is no pressure on Seguin to be a savior here in the Hub of Hockey. With Savard out of the mix, Seguin still has the likes of David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Greg Campbell slotted above him on the talent totem pole. At least for now.

For a team that was starved for offense for much of 2009-10, Seguin could make a quick ascent if he shows the kind of point-producing giddyup he displayed in junior hockey. He’s the fresh face, perhaps the No. 1 reason the club weeks ago capped season-ticket sales. Could be that the franchise player-in-waiting isn’t going to have to wait that long after all.

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