Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Blues add Savard as assistant coach

Known as an offensive specialist, new coach will work with special 
teams, particularly the power play; was teammate of Berube in Calgary

ST. LOUIS -- Marc Savard often displayed his wizardry as a player in the NHL, particularly on the offensive end.

He'll hope to do more of the same as an assistant coach with the defending Stanley Cup champion Blues moving into the 2019-20 season.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
The Blues added former NHL center Marc Savard (pictured) as an assistant
coach moving into the 2019-20 season.

The 42-year-old Savard, who played for four teams during a 13-year NHL career cut short because of post-concussion syndrome, was brought onto Craig Berube's staff to be an assistant coach on Wednesday.

Savard, who had 706 points (207 goals, 499 assists) in 807 regular-season games for the New York Rangers, Calgary Flames, Atlanta Thrashers and the Boston Bruins, will work with the special teams of the Blues, particularly the power play which was 10th in the league during the regular season (21.1 percent) but struggled mightily in stretches during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"From what I understand in good, thorough talks with Craig Berube and Doug Armstrong, I'm going to be trying to work special teams, mostly the power play, work on some skill stuff and just add any piece to hockey club I can and go from there I guess," Savard said in a conference call on Wednesday. "I was a power play guy for sure in my playing days. Me and Craig have had many, many discussions when he took over the Blues this year and I just have some philosophies. I've been able to watch the game a lot. I'm still a hockey watcher day in and day out, and I've picked up a lot of stuff on the power play and what works, what doesn't and I think I'll be able to bring lot of adjustments and new looks and help the Blues have a fresh look, different options. They've got a lot of great pieces. If I'm able to work with them, we should be right up there in the league in power play next season."

Savard, who had 80 of his 207 goals and 292 of his 706 points on the power play during his career, was surprised to see the Blues struggle as often as they did despite having the arsenal of players like Vladimir Tarasenko, Brayden Schenn, Ryan O'Reilly, David Perron, Alex Pietrangelo and others at their disposal.

"I was a little surprised," Savard said. "It gets a little frustrating, I know, at times. It doesn't always go well and you start gripping the sticks a little bit. I've been in those situations, so if I can help with my experience and help those great players like Tarasenko, Perron and Schenn, O'Reilly and the defense corps there, the list goes on. There's a lot of great options. It's just about bringing them all together, making them all work together and having two great units. I think there's players to have two solid units, kind of go off each other and I think they have guys that can really be successful if put in the right situations."

Savard's addition does not cut out another position. He will join assistants Steve Ott, Mike Van Ryn, David Alexander (goalie coach) and Sean Ferrell. 

It will be Savard's first NHL coaching job, and helped created by his familiarity with Berube. The two of them were teammates at the end of Berube's NHL career in 2001-02 and 2002-03 with the Flames.

"Me and Chief have had close communication for a while," Savard said. "We had roughly touched on it, and then when I finally got a call this summer. It was Sunday night, Chief asked me. I didn't know what to say. I was so excited. I didn't think it would come through this way or work out, especially coming to the Stanley Cup champions. Congratulations to the Blues and the city for that, such an amazing feat, to step right in and help out, to be able to show my passion for the game, which I've always been passionate about. I've always been the first guy at the rink and last guy to leave. Doug inform me that that's going to have to be the case again. I look forward to that challenge. 

"I'm real comfortable with Craig Berube, we're really close friends. He can mentor me and helped me in any way. I played against Steve Ott and Mike Van Ryn, so I know those guys from being on the ice and being around them. Real class guys and I know those guys will put the work in, so I'll just have to fit right in with them."

Berube added in a team statement: "I was fortunate to play with Marc during my career and I'm very familiar with his passion and acumen for the game. He was a tremendous player and possesses an elite offensive mind. His addition to our staff will be a great benefit to our players and the organization."

Savard, a Stanley Cup champion in 2011 with the Bruins, spent the last year working in the media in Toronto; he was born in Ottawa but grew up in Peterborough, Ontario.

"As you all know, I've been doing a lot of stuff around town here and locally (in Toronto)," Savard said. "I had a couple interviews with OHL teams to be a head coach. I was looking to step right in and that didn't come to fruition. I decided to take a year in the media and I owe a lot to CBC and the Fan-590 here in Toronto. I really enjoyed my season, Hockey Night in Canada, doing that kind of stuff. But at the end of the day, it became to be that I'm more of a hands-on guy, a hockey guy. I want to be around players, I want to be around the around team and help out the best way that I can. I feel I'm very capable in that aspect. I really appreciate this opportunity that Doug Armstrong's giving me and hopefully I can prove them right that I can help out this team."

Savard will get into St. Louis at the end of August and be ready to get to work. In the meantime, Berube has him already looking at film and things to get started. He's already gotten a head start after having conversations with Berube going back over the months that he took over the Blues' coaching job on an interim basis Nov. 19 for Mike Yeo.

"I told my family, everyone's been excellent, my wife, four kids are behind me 100 percent," Savard said. "They want me to do this and it made it an easy decision. Obviously, the Stanley Cup champions, so it was a no-brainer for me, it's going to be a great opportunity. Hopefully I can succeed. I'm going to put the work in. I think it'll all work out. 

"... We've had a lot of talks as well once this started to become real. But me and Chief go way back. We've kept in touch all the way through and I'm really looking forward to this challenge and new chapter in my life and getting back in the game I love so much and one I continue to watch on a daily basis. ... I'm going to slide in late August and get right to work and really look forward to the opportunity."

As for who Savard was rooting for during the Cup Final this season between the Blues and Bruins? Well, both.

"That's a good one. I played for the Bruins, but Craig and me were great friends," Savard said. "I had mixed emotions. I was happy that either team could win it honestly. But I was really rooting for Craig Berube. I even got a picture of when he first lifted the Cup right on on my TV and sent it to him right away so he had it on his phone right away. I think I was real happy for him. I felt bad for Boston, it was nothing but a great city to me. The fan base has been incredible for what I had gone through, my teammates, some of them are still there, so I pulled for them as well, but I was really, really happy for Craig Berube and the city of St. Louis. It was a special moment obviously. Hopefully we can re-capture that again."

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