After 14 seasons, former Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador announced his retirement. A key member of the 2011-12 Devils that lost to the Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals, Salvador came over from the Blues on February 26, 2008 in a trade for Cam Janssen.
A stay at home defenseman who protected the front of the net, Salvador had a memorable 2012 playoffs registering four goals and 10 assists for 14 points in 24 games. His performance helped the Devils defeat the Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final allowing them to advance to the Cup Final. The offense came as a surprise because he wasn’t known for it. Oddly enough, the 4-10-14 line was identical to his ’09-10 season total which came over 79 games.
What made Salvador a great story was he missed all of ’10-11 due to a concussion. He didn’t miss a game in ’11-12 playing all 82 in the regular season tallying nine assists. That’s what made the postseason even more startling. He scored four goals after not scoring any.
The Devils rewarded him with a three-year contract even making Salvador the team captain. Unfortunately, he was marred by injuries and unable to duplicate the production. Sadly, fans turned against him. In decline, he was seen as a veteran taking up valuable minutes from younger players such as former first round pick Adam Larsson who is part of the team’s rebuild.
After playing 15 games in ’14-15, Salvador missed the final 67 due to a back injury. In the last three seasons, he only got into 94 games with the team missing the postseason each year. Salvador finishes his career with 110 points (24-86-110) and 696 penalty minutes in 786 games with the Blues and Devils. He’ll now spend more time with his family including his two sons.
Updating this story, Salvador wrote a bone chilling piece in the Players Tribune about what he came back from. It’s a must read. It details how hard his rehab was from an inner ear concussion that nearly derailed his career. Here are a couple of excerpts.
I went and sat down with Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello and I admitted to him that I was not getting better. That was a tough moment. Here I am making good money, and I’m telling my GM that the doctors can’t figure out what’s wrong with me. But Lou was phenomenal about it. He said, “Bryce, just keep seeing specialists. Wherever you want to go, whatever you want to do, take as much time as you need.”
Lou, thank you.
Every single day, for hours on end, this was my rehab routine: I would walk, jog and run with my eyes closed. I would jump on a trampoline and call out the names of shapes and colors until my brain was in a fog. I would sit in an office chair and spin until I was so dizzy that I was on the verge of puking. They told me it should take a normal person 10 seconds after spinning in a chair for the dizziness to go away. That was my target. When I first started, it took me more than a minute to re-calibrate.
Salvador struggled with everyday functions due to the severity of the injury. It was hard for him to communicate with his wife and children. He suffered dizziness from driving. At 35, he even wondered if he would suffer the rest of his life. It’s an amazing tale. Thankfully, Salvador stuck with it rehabbing and got better. He plans to stay involved in hockey spreading his message to the community.