Blue Jackets’ David Savard: A Master Class in Professionalism

597 games played. And then another 37 playoff games played. Through it all, David Savard handled everything the same way: with true professionalism.

Savard was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday as part of a three-way trade. The Blue Jackets received a first-round pick in the 2021 draft as well as a third-round pick in the 2022 draft.

Even to the very end the day the trade was announced, Savard was still doing his part helping his teammates. He was on the ice taking part in the optional skate at Nationwide Arena even though he was being scratched. It was a fitting way to end his Blue Jackets’ career.

“I’m gonna miss these guys a lot, friendships I’m gonna have for the rest of my life,” Savard said of the Blue Jackets and his teammates. “A lot of sweat and tears we have in that locker room so it’s hard to leave.”

Savard: Growing to Become the Ultimate Professional

No matter what was thrown at Savard, he handled everything with the utmost class and professionalism. He never wavered from it. That’s why he was one of the most respected players in the Blue Jackets’ locker room. You knew what you were going to get with him.

But like most players, Savard had to go through some bumps in the road to get to where he is today.

The Blue Jackets drafted Savard with the 94th pick of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. They got this pick because of all things, Adam Foote.

Foote was ultimately traded back to the Colorado Avalanche for two draft picks including what turned out to be the 94th pick in 2009. When Foote re-signed with the Avalanche, the Blue Jackets got this pick. It became Savard.

Savard spent the early part of his career with AHL Springfield. In the 2010-11 season, he was their top-scoring defensemen and finished the season second among the AHL’s rookie defensemen. Things were certainly looking up.

But then in December 2012, Savard suffered an injury right before the shortened season began. He played most of that season back in the AHL despite enjoying some NHL success.

In July 2013, Savard signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Blue Jackets. Coming off a season of injury and playing mostly in the AHL, this was a prove it kind of deal. He definitely proved himself.

Savard appeared in 70 games and began the process of becoming a main stay on the blue line. The following year he inked a two-year deal with the Blue Jackets. When that was done, he signed on for five more seasons. His rise corresponded with a change in his game.

Transitioning From Offense to Shutdown

Savard was known early in his career as an offensively-minded defenseman. He scored a career-high 11 goals and 36 points during the 2014-15 season. It was thought he would continue down this path of being a two-way threat.

But the situation changed. His points started to steadily go down. That’s because the Blue Jackets transitioned him into more of a shutdown role. In 2016-17, he led the NHL in plus/minus with a +33. He was paired most of that season with Jack Johnson. They were a formidable shutdown pair.

David Savard became one of the better shutdown defenders over the years. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

That’s what stands out about Savard here. He took everything in stride and did whatever it took to play the role he was asked to play. No complaints. All that mattered to Savard was that it was helping the team succeed.

Savard the Leader

It was a cumulation of things that led to Savard eventually becoming the Blue Jackets’ representative with the NHL Player’s Association. He had a big part in the things leading up to a return to play. It was a testament to the way he handled his business.

Savard led by example. When things were going well, he wasn’t too high. When things were bad especially early on, he wasn’t too low. He helped shape the culture of the Blue Jackets to what it was these last few seasons.

Without any hesitation, Savard willingly did the dirty work. He’s an in-your-face defenseman who is willing to sell out to block shots and do the right things that won’t hit the scoresheet. His play gave everyone else confidence on the team because of the stability he brought. Head coach John Tortorella had Savard out in almost every important defensive situation. That’s because of how dependable he was.

John Tortorella Columbus Blue Jackets
John Tortorella was always able to depend on David Savard in key moments. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Savard let his actions do most of the talking. But when he did speak, it commanded respect. He words carried extra weight because of the way he handled himself. He was instrumental to helping both Seth Jones and Zach Werenski get to where they’re at today within the Blue Jackets.

You know you’re in a good place when the general consensus about you is the same no matter who you talk to. Whether it was someone on the team or anyone that has come in contact with Savard, there was a love and admiration for him because of who he was.

When you think of Blue Jackets hockey these last 10 years, it’s hard not to think about Savard. He devoted his time to helping the team get to where it is today from a culture and accountability standpoint. Who else would be called a Lumber Jacket after all?

Fans Memories of Savard

We figured this would be the perfect way to end our look back at Savard’s career. I asked fans to send in a quick story or memory of what Savard has meant to them. Let the fans fill you in on why he is a Master Class of Professionalism.

I remember when David Savard first stepped foot into the NHL. Middle school me was not initially impressed with this awkward skating and puck-fumbling defenseman. Years later, I’m glad I was proven wrong and that the team decided to hang on to him as he became a mainstay on our backend, not to mention a great guy to represent our city. As I look back on his tenure with the club, I believe he can be considered a successor to Fedor Tyutin, who was also one of the few reliable pieces during a few tough seasons. Someone who showed up to work and chipped in offensively now and then and gave his best effort every night. Savard may be a member of the Lightning now, but everyone knows he will always be a Blue Jacket and the reason behind some very special memories. -Nathan Viebranz

Many, many memories of him playing. Years back at a fan/player event on the ice, (Savard) was passing pucks out from behind the net and out to people in line . Most people have no idea what they’re doing but having played many years, I fired two pucks in. He said “nice shooting “ on my way out. I always joked with my daughter afterwards that he was my line mate. Great player and person! Will miss him big time! -Michael Luksic

Boone Jenner David Savard Columbus Blue Jackets
David Savard made a lasting impression on fans. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It was the 2018 Season Ticket Holders Meet and Greet for full season package holders. My wife and I attended together. I am a Savard Super Fan with the opportunity to get my jersey signed and try to figure out how to get a puck signed as well. So practice breaks and I dash down to the table where Savard and (Gabriel) Carlsson are. I’m probably eighth in line. I am literally shaking with anticipation. The line starts moving and I am next with my jersey in hand and wearing my “David F*ckin’ Savard” t-shirt. So I skip right past Carlsson like he isn’t even at the table and lay my jersey down explaining why I think (Savard) is the greatest. (Savard) looks up and catches a peek at my t-shirt and starts cracking up while turning red at the same time. Yet he never mentions my shirt until I bring it up. But then I get right back in line and go through again because I need to get a puck signed for my personal collection. I finally get there and once again, zoom right past Carlsson. I hand (Savard) my puck and share a few more words. At this point my wife thinks I’m nuts. She then gets in line to get her Savard autograph and I decide to wait with her. My wife gets to the front of line to get her autograph and she points me out waiting for her and tells Savard “I just want you to know my husband loves you more than he loves me”. Savard once again turns red, leans back in his chair and says “Oh Boy.” He then stands up and shakes my hand and thanked me for being a loyal fan. -Brandyn Tinney

Savard was universally loved in Columbus both on and off the ice. He represented the community well and was a giant in giving back. He gave everything to this city and to this hockey team. That’s why he must be considered one of the greatest Blue Jackets of all time. He perfectly represented what it meant to be a Blue Jacket.

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