WILMINGTON, Mass. — Marco Sturm returned to the ice for the first time in nearly six months on Tuesday morning. His return to the Bruins' lineup, however, is still a ways away.
Sturm skated on his own before the Bruins' practice at Ristuccia Arena, the first on-ice test for his right knee since suffering a torn ACL and MCL in the opening game of the second-round series against Philadelphia on May 1.
"It was good, better than I expected," said Sturm, who is currently on long-term injured reserve. "We're just going to start rolling now. I'm going to try to skate almost every day now."
The original timetable for Sturm's return was sometime in November. But he also expected to begin skating several weeks before this, and he admitted a return within the next month will now be difficult to accomplish.
"It's going to be tough," said Sturm, 32. "I don't know. I really don't know. We're just going to have to see how the next 2-3 weeks go. I want to make sure I'm going to be full strength and before that I'm not going to play."
Sturm stated that he has had some fluid building up in the knee, which forced the delay in his return to the ice. Sturm also admitted that traveling with the team to Europe probably didn't help the healing process.
"I think all the traveling to Europe didn't help," said Sturm. "But the whole team went, I wanted to go, too. It was good, but it was a lot of traveling that didn't help too much and that's why I think we just kind of [got behind schedule] a couple weeks."
Sturm doesn't regret the decision to accompany the team to Prague, however, as the injured players on the Bruins never feel separate from the rest of the team and the tight bond between teammates helps fuel his desire to return to help the team.
"On this team, it's never been an issue," said Sturm, who also missed most of the 2008-09 season with a left knee injury. "The last few years, the guys are always really happy when the injured guys are around. The guys were really happy because I was on the ice for the first time. You can tell it's a tight group. We're one team and we just want to be the best."
The strong start the Bruins have gotten off to this season has also lessened the pressure on Sturm to rush his return.
"It's great," said Sturm. "As long as the team is doing good, I think everyone is happy and it makes a lot of things easier, even for injured guys like me. We can take our time a little bit and get 100 percent and make sure when you're back you're at full strength."
Strength is the big issue for Sturm right now. He is able to do all his normal off-ice workouts, including running and sprinting, and the 6-foot, 194-pound wing stated that he is at the same weight as when he was injured last year, but he still needs to regain size and strength in his right leg.
"There was no pain, nothing, just a little weakness," said Sturm. "I could tell the other [leg] was stronger.
"The knee's going to let me know how things are going," added Sturm. "Right now it's just getting used to the ice again and get stronger again. I know I'm not that strong yet, so there's still time to go, but I was really happy about getting back on the ice."
After Sturm skated on his own, several other Bruins got in some extra work before the start of practice. Marc Savard and David Krejci joined recent scratches Daniel Paille, Brian McGrattan and Adam McQuaid for some extra work with goalies Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas under the watchful eye of goalie coach Bob Essensa.
Savard is also on long-term injured reserve as he deals with post-concussion syndrome symptoms, while Krejci missed Monday's practice to get his wisdom teeth removed. All but Savard and Sturm returned to the ice for the main practice.
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