Marco Sturm Returns to Boston Having Finally Found a Home with Panthers after Year of Travels and Trials

Marco Sturm Returns to Boston Having Finally Found a Home with Panthers after Year of Travels and TrialsBOSTON — Marco Sturm's many travels have finally brought him back to a familiar place, albeit in a strange new role.

The former Bruins forward was back in Boston on Thursday for the first time since being traded to Los Angeles last Dec. 11, returning to play against the Bruins for the first time since that deal. He's not with the Kings anymore though. Sturm is actually with his fourth different team since leaving the Bruins, but seems to have finally settled in Florida with a revamped Panthers squad.

"It’s been pretty good actually," Sturm said after Florida's morning skate prior to the Panthers' clash with the Bruins on Thursday night. "Obviously a lot's happened in the last year. It's not easy for me or my family, but we made it and I think we're in a pretty good spot now. They did a lot of changes in the summer and we're playing good right now. It's a great group of guys, so it's been pretty easy for me to adjust and I'm really happy with where I'm at."

After being traded to the Kings last December, Sturm returned to the East Coast in February when he was claimed off waivers by Washington. He then signed with Vancouver as a free agent in July, only to get dealt again in October, when he landed in Florida.

Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who played with Sturm both in Boston and on various German national teams, caught up with his old friend by phone on Wednesday ahead of Sturm’s return to Boston.

"It was nice hearing from him," Seidenberg said. "He's a great guy and it's always nice talking to him."

Seidenberg was also happy to hear that Sturm is finally settling down again in Florida after his many travels in the past year.

"He finally enrolled his kids in school down there," Seidenberg said. "He's settled in finally and moved into his house. I don't want to imagine how tough it's been for him the last year or so, moving the while family across country a couple times. I wouldn't want to be in his shoes."

It was also tough for Sturm, who came to the Bruins as part of the Joe Thornton trade in 2005 and stayed for parts of six seasons in Boston, to see his old club finally win the Cup without him last spring. But any feelings of disappointment at not being part of that championship run were quickly erased by his joy at seeing his friends finally triumph.

"These guys deserved it," Sturm said. "They played hard and if you looked at the Finals, they deserved to win. They played so good and I was really happy for them."

"Maybe at the start of the playoffs it was kind of weird," Sturm added. "But after they kept winning and winning I knew they had a pretty good chance and the happiness took over. I knew this group of guys and they've been great and they deserved it."

The current Bruins are still equally fond of Sturm, as the bond between them remains strong after their seasons together in Boston.

"We were fairly tight, our wives hung out a lot," Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. "He's obviously an unbelievable guy. Anyone who's ever met him knows he's always smiling. He's always in a good mood. He brings your spirits up. I'm hoping he's finding a home there. I hope he has success."

Sturm has battled major injuries to both knees in recent years and has just 2-1-3 totals in 26 games this season, but has played better of late for the Panthers, who have already taken note of his infectious positive attitude.

"He’s just continuously gotten better," Florida coach Kevin Dineen said. "He's had a couple strong games lately. I think anybody that knows Marco knows he comes to the rink and has that little bit of grin on his face most days. He's easily coached, but more important than that, I think he's just a real quality teammate. He's been a great addition for us."

And now, after nearly a year and stops in four different cities, Sturm returns to Boston to play against the Bruins for the first time.

"It's fun, but also a little bit weird too," Sturm said. "It was a fun time here. I had a lot of good years here. I really liked it here, but now I'm on the other side and hopefully we're going to get a win tonight."

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