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From King to Coach: Marco Sturm's Story

Marco Sturm returns to the LA Kings for the second time, but this time behind the bench rather than on the ice

by Mike Commito @mikecommito /

Marco Sturm's time as a player with the LA Kings was brief. The Kings acquired the speedy winger from the Bruins on December 11, 2010, in exchange for future considerations.

The deal, however, only became official a few days later after the team's doctors cleared his surgically repaired knees. After injuring his left knee during the 2008-09 season, Sturm recovered to lead the Bruins in goal-scoring, only to tear the anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his right knee in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

When Sturm joined the Kings, he hadn't played an NHL game in more than seven months, but the club was hoping that the seven-time 20-goal scorer would hit his stride again out in Los Angeles. Following activation from injured reserve, Sturm made his Kings debut against the Avalanche on December 21, 2010.

Two games later, in a matchup against the Ducks, he picked up an assist on an Anze Kopitar goal, to register his first point as a King. The next night, he scored against the Sharks, the team that drafted him 21st overall in 1996. 

As Sturm and his knees progressed towards mid-season form, he racked up eight points in 15 games until a case of tendonitis in his left knee landed him back on the IR. After being off the ice for more than a month, Sturm returned on February 23, only to be waived a few days later as the Kings looked for more roster flexibility heading into the trade deadline.

Given Sturm's limited action that season, the club expected he would go unclaimed. Instead, he was nabbed by the Capitals and was on the first plane to Washington. And just like that, Sturm's time with the Kings had come to an end. 

Although his tenure with the Kings was short-lived, Sturm has nothing but fond memories about his fleeting time with the club.

"They treated me so good and that shows the character of the team. It was really respectful, it was really fun. It was a tight group. You could tell one day they would have the chance to win the Cup and it came really fast because the following year they won it," he recently recalled. 

Now an assistant coach with the Kings, Sturm may be back in familiar territory, but it's not somewhere he thought he would have been at the end of his NHL career. Following his final season in 2012, Sturm admitted that he did not have any plans about joining the coaching ranks.

"I never wanted to be a coach, so that came out of nowhere," he said.

Sturm's interest in coaching only really developed during retirement when he became involved in his children's hockey.

"That is how it all started. I enjoyed youth hockey, but I was never really looking ahead," he noted. But when the German national team came calling in 2015, it was an opportunity that Sturm simply couldn't pass up. 

While still relatively new to the coaching world when he took the reins as general manager and head coach of Team Germany, Sturm already knew some of the players during his two-decade run with the national team.

Similar to the situation he now finds himself in with the Kings, Sturm believes that that familiarity gave him an early advantage with his squad.

"I knew them a little bit better, so I think it helped me moving forward and that's exactly what's happening here [in LA] too," he surmised. 

Although he recognized plenty of familiar faces in the locker room, Sturm acknowledged there was a bit of learning curve in making the transition from player to coach.

"[As a player] you have a beer and you have a good sleep and then you wake up the next day. As a coach you have to start after the game and work your way through the night and get back at it the next day, so that's a huge difference," he explained.

Tweet from @LAKings: More like Agent Marco Sturm?

"There's so much around it with video and stats, that's something I've really had to put a lot of time and work into that to get prepared for the next game," Sturm added. 

It didn't take long for Sturm's hard work to pay off with the German national team. He guided the club to the championship at the 2015 Deutschland Cup and a playoff round berth at the 2016 IIHF World Championship, but the best was yet to come.

At the 2018 Winter Olympics, Germany went on an incredible run, upsetting Canada in the semifinals before earning the silver medal in the final against Russia.

"Playing against Team Canada in the semifinals, that for me was the best game ever. We didn't go home with nothing. We won against a big nation and we won silver and the way we played also was just incredible. It seemed like after the game all the hard work and everything you put into it finally got rewarded," Sturm recalled. 

Germany lacked the star power on the ice that some of the other countries possessed, but Sturm was able to bring his squad together and accomplish something that none of them dared to dream about a couple years earlier in the qualification stage.

"We were not the best team, but as a team we found ways to win games against the big guys and that just shows that if you stick together, if you have good chemistry and a good locker room and you have fun and a lot of discipline, you can make good things happen," he proclaimed. 

Team Germany's silver medal has certainly afforded Sturm bragging rights in Kings' coaching room. Opposite Sturm in the semifinals was head coach Willie Desjardins, who was behind the bench for Team Canada.

"He doesn't want to talk about it," Sturm joked. "Once in a while I bring it up."  

The challenge now for Sturm and the rest of the Kings coaching staff will be to steer the team out of the skid. Sturm hopes that his experience with the German team will help him guide his current players.

"I got the team working the right way. We were tight. These guys are not used to losing, so it's going to be a challenge for them too," he stated.

"Most of them have never really been in that situation like this, so we've got to learn from that and hopefully that will bring us closer together in the future."

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