The wait is finally over for Marco Sturm, who is on track to return to the Kings’ lineup for Wednesday’s game at Anaheim after missing 12 games because of knee tendinitis. When the Kings left, on Feb. 9, for their latest six-game road trip, it seemed as though Sturm’s return was only days away. Turns out, it was a couple weeks. Sturm was with the team during the entire road trip, but got on the ice only for extensive skating during and after practice. Now, Sturm will be back in the lineup, in a first-line role with Anze Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds, and I talked to him today after practice about his health…
STURM: “It feels good. Today’s practice, well, it obviously feels better when you’re on the top line there. But it feels good, it feels stronger. So hopefully it stays like this after I get some games in. … Hopefully, knock on wood, it’s going to stay like this. We did a lot of work, on it and around it, and a lot of treatment. I just have to make sure I stay on top on it. Even if it feels good, I’ve got to make sure I do my stuff, and hopefully it stays like this.”
Question: There’s been talk about how to get Kopitar’s production going. With your game, is that something you think you can help?
STURM: “Definitely. Open up some ice and some room for him. He’s pretty good with that, and he’s also good about giving it to me, when I’m there. I’ve just got to make sure I use my speed more, and create some room and chances.”
Also, Terry Murray talked about practice about getting Sturm back in the lineup…
MURRAY: “He has put a lot of work in, through all the practices on the day away from here, on the road. Practice days, morning skates, he got into the skating clubs pretty heavily each one of those days. I think he’s as good as we’re going to get him to, from not playing the game. Physically, he’s 100 percent. Emotionally, now, he’s hungry. I had a conversation with him on the road, about where he is at on the mental, emotional side of the game, and he’s hungry. He’s ready to play, and it’s now time to put him on a line where he has an opportunity to play his game, with good players, and then for us to evaluate him and see where he’s at. And also for him to play good for the team, to help us win some games.”
Question: Before you left for the road trip, you talked about getting him back in. Was there something particular you were looking for?
MURRAY: “You’re watching him in practice. You watch him in doing the extra, heavy work after the practice, after the morning of the game whenever there’s a small group out there. I just felt that it wasn’t where I wanted to see it to be, on the physical conditioning side of it. He’s coming through a very serious injury, but on the other part of it — and I mentioned this before, when we first got him here — he’s going through training camp, kind of mentally too, to get himself physically ready and emotionally ready to play. I kept watching and looking for that extra gear that I really need him to play at. I think he started to hit his stride in the last couple days of practice on the road. He seemed to have better jump, better stamina, better endurance. Now it’s time to see where he’s at in a game, competitive situation.”