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By Danny Picard
WILMINGTON -- Claude Julien described it as a "leisurely skate."
Marco Sturm hit the ice Tuesday for the first time since suffering a torn ACL and MCL in Game One of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers in May. He skated prior to the Bruins' practice at Ristuccia Arena, and didn't necessarily disagree with his coach when he briefly spoke to the media before Julien. He even said he's a little behind his original timetable of a late-November return.
But Julien isn't ready to think about Sturm's return just yet, mainly because, as he said after Tuesday's practice, he's not even close to a comeback.
"You guys are quick on the gun here," said Julien when asked what it would be like to get Sturm back and healthy. "He's a long ways away. I can't even think about that right now because he's so far away.
"Let's give him a break here and give him a chance to find his way, because I can't even think about where we're going to put him."
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was approached about Sturm's recovery process after Tuesday's practice, and Chara was quick to show how pleased he was to see the always-smiling Sturm working hard to get back on the ice.
"It's always nice to see our guys coming back from injuries, that's for sure," said Chara. "Especially a guy like Marco, who unfortunately has been hit by the same injury twice in a row.
"He's handling it really well, and he's working extremely hard. You don't see that very often from guys being hurt, as mentally strong as he is, after they've been going through the same rehab.
"To have a guy like that coming back, and seeing him skating, it's awesome," added Chara. "It's just been a long road for him, and eventually, it's getting shorter and shorter for him. So it's nice."