TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – David Savard, the veteran defenseman who is in his 10th season in the National Hockey League, has only spent five of his 602 games in a Tampa Bay Lightning uniform.
He previously represented the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team that drafted him 94th overall in 2009.
“It is definitely going to be weird,” said Savard. “I think I am kind of excited at the same time to see them on the ice.”
Yes, Savard will compete against his former team for the first time on Thursday evening inside Amalie Arena. Despite the oddity of the situation, he seemed to be fairly relaxed speaking about it ahead of the game.
“I spent quite a bit of time there so I think it should be fun,” he said. “Hopefully, we get a big win on our side tonight.”
In case you had any doubts, Savard is hoping that that win will belong to the Lightning.
“We are still in a battle,” he said, “so it is an important game, so it makes it a little special to, obviously, play the Jackets tonight.”
The Lightning currently sit in third place in the Central Division. They trail the Carolina Hurricanes and the Florida Panthers by three points with 10 games remaining in the regular season.
The Blue Jackets are the worst team in the Central Division. They have 15 wins this season while the Lightning have 30 wins in 46 games.
“I am just going to play as a normal game,” said Savard, “but, obviously, the emotions are going to be pretty high playing against your old teammates and I am just excited for it.”
He could not decide if it would have been better for him to see his former team five games or 55 games into his career with the Lightning.
“I knew it was coming at some point,” he said, “and, sometimes, I do not know if it is better to push it back or do it right away so it is going to be done and it is business as usual after.”
Unfortunately, that “business as usual” comment is slightly skewed under the current circumstances. Savard will not be able to properly reconnect with his teammates outside of the arena at, for example, a restaurant due to the COVID-19 protocols.
“I just talked to them. We are not supposed to see each other,” he said. “We have been texting ever since I got traded. Obviously, you care about those guys still and we have conversations here and there, maybe not as much as when you are on the same team, but we stayed in contact.”
He added being traded from team to team is a part of the business and consequently, since arriving in Tampa, he feels fortunate to be able to compete for a Stanley Cup.
“They are excited for me to be here and they know how good this team is,” he said, “and I think they wish me nothing but the best.”