WINNIPEG - Marc Savard almost quit playing golf before he found out how good he could actually be.
The 36-year-old only picked up the sport after the New York Rangers missed the playoffs in 1997-98.
But while many NHLers find it relaxing out on the links, Savard wasn’t enjoying himself much — until a teammate provided what turned out to be a career-altering tip.
“I went out and tried it right-handed and it was not enjoyable, to say the least. Later on that summer, someone said why don’t you try left-handed, you play hockey left-handed,” said Savard, who received a sponsor’s exemption to play in The Players Cup this week at Pine Ridge. “I didn’t play the toughest course, but I shot an 85 as a lefty, so I stuck with it and I’ve fallen in love with the game. I’ve really put the time in. I have a green in my backyard and I practice all the time. It’s something that I’m actually obsessed with.”
Savard played 807 NHL games during his career, adding another 25 during the Stanley Cup playoffs but his career ended prematurely in 2011 after suffering his second concussion in 10 months.
There are days when Savard still suffers symptoms, but his health has improved — though he realizes a potential NHL comeback is not likely in the cards.
“It’s going to be tough to play again,” said Savard, who had 207 goals and 706 points in the regular season and added eight goals and 22 points in the post-season. “I listen (to the doctors) and taking another hit is not really on the agenda. Right now, it doesn’t look promising.”
But playing golf has provided him a nice outlet for his competitive juices.