WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Marco Sturm was sitting in front of his dressing room stall at Ristuccia Arena on Tuesday after another grueling practice and step toward his comeback from reconstructive knee surgery, which has kept him out of game action since Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last May. When notified that it was the five-year anniversary of the trade that brought him to Boston (along with defenseman Brad Stuart and forward Wayne Primeau) and made former Bruins captain Joe Thornton a San Jose Shark, a deal that changed the face of both franchises, Sturm seemed shocked.
“Today? Really? Wow, it goes quick!” Sturm said.
Sturm then thought back to that night, Nov. 30, 2005, and how he found out he had been dealt for Thornton, who would go on to win the Hart Trophy that season and leave disgruntled Bruins fans behind, ready to hang then-general manager Mike O’Connell on the town common. O’Connell thankfully never met that fate, but he was fired by the Bruins the following March after the season officially went in the tank.
“I was in Dallas on the ice for warmups and they called us in and told us we had been traded and that was it,” Sturm recalled. “Next day 6 o’clock in the morning, I remember that because it was really early since we [the Bruins] were playing that night against Ottawa and we had to come in early.”
Sturm would score a goal in that game, and despite numerous injuries has been a 20-goal scorer in four of the five seasons he has played for the Bruins. But as Sturm pointed out, even though he would score 23 goals as a Bruin and finish with 29 overall in the 2005-06 season, it was understandably difficult for him, Stuart and Primeau to play themselves out from under Thornton's shadow.
Stuart and Primeau didn’t last long as they were traded to Calgary in February 2007 for current Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference and former Bruins winger Chuck Kobasew. Sturm truly didn’t feel free of the Thornton trade until current GM Peter Chiarelli took over heading into the 2007-08 season and the franchise turned things around with the first of three straight playoff appearances.
“It was a tough start obviously me coming here for Joe,” Sturm said. “It was tough for me, the team at the time, and I think the fans too because Joe was very popular here and they loved him. It wasn’t easy on anyone. But I mean look at the team now. We’ve come from the bottom five years ago to being a contender each season.”
But even when he first stepped on the TD Garden ice on Dec. 1, 2005, Sturm was amazed at the passion and excitement from Bruins fans and the city of Boston.
“I noticed right away and it’s even more so now that hockey is a top sport in this city,” Sturm said. “Well, I should say even more so if you win and have a winning team. I mean, look at the playoffs, the Fenway game or just a big game, people get really excited and it doesn’t matter where you go here, they love their hockey. So I think that’s the most exciting thing about playing here.”
Including the playoffs, Sturm has played only 102 games over the last two seasons and has missed the first 22 games of this season. He’s aiming for a mid-December return but on Tuesday, despite all his health problems, Sturm was all smiles thinking back over the last five seasons.
“It’s been great,” he said. “I mean obviously I wish I had been healthier, but overall it’s made me a better player and a better person. I’ve been through some hard times but I’ve learned a lot and I couldn’t be around a group of better guys than the ones from the last few years and also the organization and coaches. They always treated and do treat me well.”
As for his greatest memory as a Bruin, that was an easy answer for the German winger.
“It has to be the Fenway game,” Sturm said referring to the overtime winner he scored in the 2010 Winter Classic. “It was just such a special and unique moment and just all the hype around it. That’s going to be my highlight so far as a Boston Bruin.”
For more of Sturm's highlights with the Bruins, check out the video below.