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Sturm Finally a King

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
ST. LOUIS -- Marco Sturm's wait ended at noon local time Wednesday, when he finally was able to feel like a part of the Kings.


It's been a long month for Sturm. Roughly two weeks ago, rumors surfaced of a trade from the Boston Bruins to the Kings. The trade went down on Saturday, but not until Tuesday did it become official, after Sturm went through a series of medical and on-ice tests.

Sturm flew from Los Angeles to St. Louis, arrived late Tuesday night and was on the ice with his new teammates in practice early Wednesday afternoon.

``It was not easy,'' Sturm said. ``It was always kind of up and down, but I knew that eventually it was going to get done. It was just the waiting part that's been tough. Even the last two days, I've been (with the Kings), they had to do a lot of testing, so it's been not easy, but I'm glad now that everything is over and I can focus on hockey again.''

Sturm is in the late stages of recovering from May knee surgery, and won't be in the lineup when the Kings take on the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night. The target date for Sturm's return is the Kings' Dec. 23 game against Edmonton at STAPLES Center, but there's an outside chance that Sturm might play next Tuesday at Colorado.

Between now and then, though, Sturm will practice with the team and have extra conditioning skating, given that he hasn't been in an NHL game since May 1.

Kings coach Terry Murray said there are no restrictions on Sturm when it comes to practice drills, and Sturm said he does not feel any pain in his surgically-repaired knee. Sturm had ACL surgery on his other knee in 2008, so he knows what to expect this time.

``After I came back from the first one, it didn't bother me at all,'' Sturm said. ``I think I never lose my speed, so for me, it's no reason to lose my speed. I need some time, but I should be back, 100 percent.''

When he does debut with the Kings, Sturm is likely to play left wing on the first line with center Anze Kopitar, although Murray has not committed to a line for Sturm, and Murray said it might be a while before Sturm skates with his specific linemates.

``It might just happen the day we practice before the game,'' Murray said.
``There might be only that one opportunity. I don't want to mess anything up in the practice, as we get going through games right now. But the day before that game will probably be the only opportunities.''

ONE CHANGE; NOT ON DEFENSE

Murray said he intends to make one lineup change for Thursday's game, with Kevin Westgarth replacing John Zeiler as the fourth-line right winger. Brad Richardson remains out of the lineup with an upper-body injury.

Matt Greene and Rob Scuderi will be able to return to the lineup. Both defensemen left Monday's game with injuries, but the Kings said Greene is fine.
Scuderi needed approximately 25 stitches to close a cut on his lip, the result of a high-sticking penalty.

Scuderi said his meals have been limited to oatmeal the past two days but that he is otherwise fine. Scuderi also got some sympathy from his 4-year-old son, Ryan, who recently needed stitches for a cut he received while playing ball hockey.

``When he was watching the (Detroit) game, he said I was copying him,'' Scuderi said with a grin.

QUICK READY TO GO AGAIN

Jonathan Quick had a career-high 51 saves against Detroit on Monday, and probably felt fortunate to have two days between games, leading up to Thursday's game at St. Louis.

Quick will start in goal against the Blues and said he didn't feel particularly tired after his tremendous effort against the Red Wings. Quick stopped 26 shots in the second period alone and recorded his 10th career shutout (and second of the season).

``I was a little tired afterward,'' Quick said. ``Not like gassed or anything.
After the third (period) I felt pretty good. I didn't get the work in the third like I did in the second. You get time to rest in between periods, obviously, so I felt good going out into the third.

``I think us scoring three goals at the beginning of the third helped a lot and took a lot of the pressure off. You're still playing it, to prevent goals, but it's not as much of a pressure situation. If a goal does go in, it's not going to be a 2-1 game. It's going to be a 5-1 game, so I think that makes it a little bit easier. Overall, I felt pretty good considering how many shots they got.''

COACH KOPITAR

Anze Kopitar's father, Matjaz, was recently named head coach of Slovenia's national team. Matjaz Kopitar played professionally in Yugoslavia and, as a coach, won a championship in the Austrian Hockey League and served as an assistant for the Slovenian national team.

Kopitar will coach Slovenia in the IIHF World Championships next month, but Anze Kopitar hopes he doesn't get the chance to play for his dad. The tournament begins in late April, during the early stages of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

``I knew they were talking,'' Anze Kopitar said of his father's involvement with the Slovenian team. ``They were talking about it over the summer. He's been involved in hockey, as much as anybody can be involved, I think. Then coming over here, to be honest I think it was missing in his life. He said it was good for him to get away from it for a few years, to be a spectator and take everything in. Now it's a great time for him to do it again.''
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