Trade sending Sturm to Kings off for now

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / December 3, 2010

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For now, Marco Sturm remains a Bruin. Last night, following the 8-1 win over Tampa Bay, Sturm’s gear hung in his stall. Like the rest of his teammates, Sturm is scheduled to report to Ristuccia Arena today at 11 a.m. to continue working his right knee back into game shape.

Whether he remains a Black-and-Gold employee is in question.

Yesterday, Canadian website first reported that Sturm had waived his no-trade clause and had been traded to Los Angeles for future considerations. However, both the Bruins and the Kings later said that no trade had been completed.

“I can confirm that I spoke to Marco about waiving his no-trade clause and have had discussions regarding Marco with other teams,’’ Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said in a statement. “I can also confirm that there is no trade in place with Marco. At this time, Marco is a member of the Boston Bruins and will continue to train with our team.’’

The Kings, losers of six of their last seven games entering last night, have been turning the NHL over in search of scoring.

Kings GM Dean Lombardi held the same job in San Jose when the Sharks drafted Sturm with the 21st overall pick in 1996. Lombardi has always liked Sturm, particularly for his speed, smarts, and willingness to enter the high-traffic areas. Likewise, Sturm enjoyed the start to his career in San Jose. Lombardi traded Sturm, Brad Stuart, and Wayne Primeau to the Bruins in the Joe Thornton blockbuster Nov. 30, 2005.

Any agreement the Bruins and Kings had may have been scuttled by the physical that is standard operating procedure for players involved in trades. On May 1, on the series-opening shift against Philadelphia in Round 2 of the playoffs, Sturm suffered a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee. He underwent surgery May 18.

It was the second major knee surgery for Sturm in two years. Sturm tore the ACL in his left knee Dec. 19, 2008. On Jan. 13, 2009, Sturm underwent season-ending surgery on the left knee. He has appeared in only 95 of 188 regular-season games in the last two-plus years.

Sturm has been practicing with the team, although he hasn’t engaged in full contact or battle drills. Sturm estimated that he is several weeks from playing, which may have caught the Kings’ bosses by surprise.

Sturm, the final piece of the Thornton trade still in Boston, is in the final season of a four-year, $14 million contract. If Sturm is still in Boston when he is ready to come off long-term injured reserve, the Bruins will have to clear salary to fit his $3.5 million under the cap.

It’s possible that the Bruins approached Sturm about waiving his no-trade by raising the possibility of placing him on waivers. Management also has considered assigning Sturm to Providence. The severity of his knee injuries makes it no guarantee that Sturm can return to his top-six form prior to his ailments. By using waivers as an option, Sturm could have been convinced to OK any trade.

“I can’t control it,’’ Sturm said last week when asked if he’d thought about being assigned. “Whatever Peter’s going to be up to, I respect that.’’

Sturm will be an unrestricted free agent July 1, and the Bruins have not considered re-signing the 32-year-old. He would need to show other GMs that he hasn’t dropped off significantly to earn his next contract.

Likewise, it would be more prudent financially for the Bruins to rid themselves of Sturm’s remaining salary instead of tucking it in the AHL. Sturm would continue to collect his NHL salary in Providence, although his cap hit would be wiped from the Bruins’ books.

If Sturm is moved, the club would lose its third-longest-tenured player after Tim Thomas and Patrice Bergeron. In 302 games with the Bruins, Sturm has 106 goals and 87 assists. Sturm’s most memorable moment was scoring the overtime winner in last season’s Winter Classic at Fenway Park.

“Great guy. Great teammate,’’ said Bergeron. “We’ll see what happens. But I’m happy he’s still with us.’’

Other clubs might be hesitant to take on a pricey UFA-to-be coming off knee surgery. If so, the Bruins again will have to take stock of their cap situation.

“He’s part of our team right now,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “He’s nowhere else but with us. That’s how we’re going to embrace it. We’re going to embrace him as one of our teammates. Just because there’s a possibility doesn’t mean he’s gone. I think Peter’s got all kinds of options. Or I hope he has options. Just because it’s been brought up doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. That’s the way I’m approaching it, as if he’s still part of our team. And he is. We’ll go from there. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t happen and Peter decides to do something else, he’ll have been with us as a member the whole time.’’

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