Marco Sturm is close to returning from injured reserve. That much is known. Exactly when Sturm will play, or whose spot he will take on the Kings’ roster, remains unknown. Sturm made it through a second consecutive day of full-team practice Tuesday, a day after he had the final treatment on his knee for the tendinitis that has sidelined him for the past seven games. Sturm will accompany the Kings to Pittsburgh for the start of their six-game road trip, but stopped short of pronouncing himself ready to play, and coach Terry Murray also declined to speculate on the likelihood of Sturm playing against the Penguins. When Sturm is activated from injured reserve, the Kings will have to make a corresponding roster move. Since everyone else seems to be healthy at the moment, an assignment to the AHL would seem to be in order. Andrei Loktionov and Alec Martinez are the only skaters who are not subject to waivers, and both have been lineup regulars of late. Here’s what Sturm said today about his recovery, followed by Murray’s thoughts on Sturm’s possible return.
STURM: “It’s not just the knee. I have to get my strength back a little bit. I’m just trying to catch up here a little bit. It’s been a good week, and hopefully I will be back this week. We’ll see. It will go day by day. … I will definitely go on the trip and I will, I think definitely, play on the trip too. It’s just a matter of time.”
Question: How frustrating has it been, to have to sit out and watch the team?
STURM: “When you come to a new team, you always want to do great and help the team win. I did it for a little bit, and now I’ve had a setback but there’s still a lot of time, a lot of games left, so hopefully I can show everyone what I’ve got and help the team win.”
And here are Murray’s thoughts, starting with when Sturm might be able to return to the lineup…
MURRAY: “The first thing I have to take in consideration is, how is he doing after the two days of getting worked pretty hard? That will be a conversation that I have to have with him and our medical staff, and start to sort it out from that point and see when we can get him in, and just decide.”
Question: You’ve been able to put some wins together. Is there any concern that changing the lineup might impact chemistry?
MURRAY: “No, I’m not worried about it. I think, when you add good players to your lineup, it’s a positive thing. It’s always hard, because everybody who is in the lineup is contributing and playing pretty well right now, but the bottom line is, we’re trying to get to our best lineup as quickly, as soon as we can, so that’s a decision that you have to make.”
Question: What is the decision going to be like on the other end? In terms of forwards, Loktionov is really the only guy who can go down without waivers…
MURRAY: “That’s where you have to make the right decision here. That’s certainly the consideration that you’re going to look at. There’s a player that comes off the IR, to begin with, so you have to have a roster spot for that to take place, and that includes two guys only. That would be Loktionov and Martinez. So that’s where the conversation with the medical staff has to be had. Then that needs to be carried upstairs to talk with management, and go from that point.”
Question: What have you been seeing from him (Sturm) on the ice?
MURRAY: “I came away, at the end of the day (yesterday), feeling like I needed to see a little bit more, a little more jump and pop in his game. It was better out there today. So, why is that? Again, that’s something I’ll talk to him about, and talk to our medical staff. When he’s on top of it, he’s got good jump, good hands, good vision. He’s a good player. That’s going to make us a better hockey club at the end of the day. So it does change your dynamic. It does give you the ability to have more of a threat, and more puck possession, probably, in the offensive zone. So he should make us a better hockey club.”