It's a story that has become commonplace in today's NHL. A talented forward goes down with concussion-like symptoms and struggles to regain his former ability. With the news that Colorado Avalanche forward Peter Mueller returned to the ice for the first time this season since suffering a concussion during a September preseason game, Avalanche fans are likely to get excited. A healthy Mueller could transform a currently moribund Avalanche offense, and lift a struggling team into the postseason.
These fans would be wise to read about Boston Bruins forward Marc Savard.
Much like Mueller, Savard is a uniquely gifted forward. He has long been the engine of the Boston Bruins offense and a key cog to their playoff hopes this season. Since 2007, Savard has been the only Bruins player to average a point per game. Unfortunately, his career took a severe right turn last March when Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke leveled Savard, giving him a severe concussion. Savard missed the remainder of the regular season, but rushed back to play in the second round of the playoffs.
His hurried return ended up being a mistake, as it was doubtful that he would even be able to play this season because of continued concussion symptoms. Savard struggled through the first half of the season, and has obviously not been himself. 10 points and a -7 rating through 25 games? He has hurt Boston more than he has helped them this year. Tragically, Savard suffered yet another concussion earlier this month on a hit by Colorado Avalanche defenseman (and former teammate) Matt Hunwick, and now his entire career is at a crossroads.
Peter Mueller has followed the same path as Savard, suffering a concussion last spring in the first round of the playoffs. He had planned to return to the lineup this season and anchor one of Colorado's top two lines before a seemingly innocuous hit in the final preseason game kept him from even skating this season. Mueller even visited Savard's doctor in December after going three months without any noticeable progress.
Mueller's skatearound this morning can be seen as a positive sign, a hint that he is finally feeling healthy. An optimistic person would hope that Mueller is ready for action in the playoffs -- though the same could be said about the Avalanche as a team currently -- but it may not be the best thing for Mueller as a player.
As we've learned from Marc Savard, concussions are a very serious matter. Rushing back from such an injury could have devastating consequences for a player's career and life. Let's hope Peter makes the right choice.