(NEWS CENTER) -- NHL veteran left-winger Marc Savard went on the record with The Players' Tribune to discuss his post-hockey life in an opinion piece titled "Hell and Back."
In the column, Savard reflected on his whirlwind of brain injury, recovery and the re-injury which caused him to retire in 2011 with 6-years remaining on his player contract.
Savard's first major brain injury of his career occurred on March 7th, 2010 against the Penguins. Matt Cooke, who has had a notorious career as an NHL defenseman, blindsided Savard after a shot attempt.
Although Cooke has been suspended at least six times -- the brush against Savard was not considered egregious enough for him to be suspended for it. Savard has "no memory of the actual event." About 2 weeks later, the NHL instituted a new rule to reduce similar blind side hits.
After the ordeal, Savard literally spent months in a self-imposed cave. Sleeping by day, recluse and depressed by night. Eventually, Marc willed himself back toward the ice. He insisted that he was fine but admits to convincing himself he was better than he truly felt.
Although Savard was productive in the NHL Playoffs in 2010, he entered the offseason completely depleted.
Marc's NHL career permanently ended when he got injured again on January 22, 2011, when then Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick "leaned in and hit me clean...he caught me just right." Savard also blames the way that the stiff ice partitions were designed at the Pepsi Center in Denver at the time.
According to Savard, the second concussion didn't just make him feel depressed and depleted but actually brought along a huge amount of personal anxiety. The physical trauma to his system was compounded by the impending doom that his personal and public profile of being a respected hockey career was over.
"The anguish of not knowing what was going to become of my life, and my identity, was worse than all the terrible headaches. The crushing anxiety that I experienced was worse than any broken bone."
According to the another interview, Savard has plans to coach an Ontario Hockey League (OHL) team in the future.