BOSTON -- For the first time since he was traded to Los Angeles last December, Marco Sturm returned to the TD Garden today.
The Panthers winger has played for four teams (including Florida) since he was dealt out of Boston in a salary-cap crunch. In more than 300 regular-season games with the Bruins, Sturm scored 106 goals, including the famous game-winning goal in the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park.
Maybe his biggest goal as a Bruin came in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against Montreal in 2008. The Bruins were in the playoffs for the first time since the lockout and Sturm's goal capped a wild victory that allowed the eighth-seeded Bruins to push top-seeded Montreal to a seventh game.
"It's fun and it's a little bit weird too," said Sturm about his return to Boston after the morning skate in preparation for tonight's game against the Bruins. "It's been a fun time here. I had a lot of good years here, I really liked it here, and now I'm on the other side."
Sturm admits that at first last spring, he wasn't all that interested in what the Bruins were doing. As they moved closer to their Stanley Cup championship, however, Boston earned Sturm's rooting interest.
"After they kept winning and winning, I knew they had a pretty good chance," he said. "I don't know, the happiness took over because I knew this group of guys and they deserve it."
While Sturm wasn't around for Boston's capturing of the ultimate goal, he was a key component in the change of culture for the Bruins. Winger Shawn Thornton lauded Sturm's ability to life everyone's spirits today, and coach Claude Julien was grateful for what Sturm brought his clubs on and off the ice.
"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 ... really wanted to feel part of the team and 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," Julien said. "As a player … 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."