BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 08: Marco Sturm #16 of the Florida Panthers and Dennis Seidenberg #44 of the Boston Bruins fight for the puck on December 8, 2011 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Marco Sturm and the Florida Panthers came into TD Garden last night and took two points from the reigning Stanley Cup Champions -- a team that Sturm knows all too well.
It happens in every sport. Because sports are so much business, often times you will see two really good friends get ripped apart from each other in a matter of hours. Trades can happen so fast, and an athlete has to be prepared to move at a moment's notice.
Marco Sturm knows exactly how that goes.
Sturm had been playing with the Bruins for over five seasons and was one of the favorite players on the team. One of his most unforgettable moments was back on January 1, 2010 when his overtime goal sent the B's past the Philadelphia Flyers to win the Winter Classic at Fenway Park. Sturm continued to play and accumulated 22 goals that year to lead the team in goals.
"As a player he was, at that time we didn't have a ton of speed up front and he certainly brought that and that's what we liked about Marco was his speed and he could come off of the wing and then take that shot," Bruins head coach Claude Julien said about Sturm. "So he was one of those guys that really felt like, he wanted to be one of those guys that we could rely on when we wanted to turn things around. He was and then injuries caught up to him and changes were made."
Injuries. A word that plagued Sturm his entire career and this time changed it so dramatically.
The Bruins made it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals and they were once again playing against the Flyers. Sturm didn't last too long and hurt his knee just 21 seconds into the first game of that series. The Bruins went on to lose that series, despite having a 3-0 lead in the first three games. But Sturm lost so much more.
The 6'0, 194-pound German forward was benched with a torn ACL and MCL. That wasn't the first problem he had with his knees, and it resulted in his second knee surgery in just three years. Even after his surgery, Sturm had to go through rehabilitation which took him out of the majority of the first half of the following season--the year of the Stanley Cup Champion Bruins.
Though he wasn't on the ice, he still contributed to the team and managed to still be a part of them without lacing up his skates.
"Well Marco was one of those guys that, his last few years he had some pretty bad injuries and going back to those days, I know that he was- really wanted to feel part of the team," Julien said. "He was doing things from the outside, getting guys ready, bringing in some stuff before playoffs and kind of giving them little things that would kind of make us- or solidify what we were as a team."
And those feeling didn't stop. They wouldn't stop.
Then came the moment that players hate to hear. December 11, 2010 Sturm was told by GM Peter Chiarelli that he had been traded to the L.A. Kings for "future considerations." Sturm had no choice, and was forced to pack up and ship across the country midway through the season, with his knee almost completely healed.
Teammate and best friend Dennis Seidenberg felt for Sturm, and that day during the press conference almost looked like his eyes were welling up with tears.
"I think he has to take the positives out of it. He is going to a club that has a decent cap space regarding next year, so if he plays well I think he has a decent chance," Seidenberg said last December. "I mean, and the other thing is Lombardi drafted him, so they know what they are getting and Marco knows, at least, that the guy likes him, so from my perspective it's sad because we got along well and he's a great guy on the team and everyone loves him, so it's tough that way."
That day ended but then insanity of the next couple of months ensued.
Sturm was taken off the Injured Reserve and participated in his first game with the Kings on December 21--10 days after leaving Boston. His career with them lasted only a couple months though, and on February 25, he was placed on waivers, only to be picked up by the Washington Capitals the following day. Packing up again and moving eastbound, be played in 18 regular season games with the Caps and followed them through two rounds of the playoffs.
But as we all know, they didn't make it very far, and their (and Sturm's) long season was finally put to rest.
Though hockey was over, Sturm's life was still very fluid. He was out on the market again as an unrestricted free agent, so, with no place he needed to be, he went back to Boston and stayed there while his two kids finished up their school year there.
Meanwhile, there was still a team in Beantown that was making the playoff push. They fought with Montreal, creamed Philadelphia, wrestled with Tampa Bay and finally, sat at the top with the Vancouver Canucks.
"I was pretty close here and obviously everyone was talking about the Bruins and of course I followed it, too," Sturm said about watching the Bruins get to that point. "[It was emotional], but in the end I was just happy for these guys because they worked so hard. It’s a great group of guys and in the end they deserved to win."
But what is it like to be on the outside looking in? He knew all of these players and was a part of this team that was now at the very top of the league. Just five months prior, he was in the locker room joking and participating and breathing everything with his team, only to be there at the most crucial part of the year, watching all of his best friends share in the victories and camaraderie without him.
It was almost as if he was a little kid peering into a candy store window with his nose pressed up against the glass. He wanted to be there and be a part of what was going on, but had no chance at getting in.
"I'm sure he would have liked to stay here and win the Cup, but that's how it goes," Seidenberg said. "That's the business. You always see friends come and go. Last year in the playoffs he was here and didn't want to bother us and didn't really feel comfortable hanging out with us, so I understand what he went through, and I know how tough it must have for him last year."
But after two more moves (one to Vancouver and finally settled in Florida) Sturm has finally found a place with the Panthers. They came into TD Garden last night and took a 2-0 victory from the defending Stanley Cup Champions and jumped to second place in the Eastern Conference. It was also the first time Sturm had returned to play on that ice since the trade. Though he didn't have a point in the game, he said it was fun to come back and play against his old teammates.
"I think the crowd—you could tell the last few years they just picked it up pretty good and obviously winning the Stanley Cup helps, too," Sturm said. "It’s a tough place to play against these guys and it’s nice to get two points.
"I had a great time here and it’s definitely always nice to come back."