Merry Christmas with Marco Sturm

By Oliver Janz

You spent the last weeks home in Germany, the same procedure as every year

He’s a fan favourite in Germany, he’s 23 years old, he plays for the San Jose Sharks and his name is Marco Sturm. Sturm is currently in his fifth NHL-season. Maybe, this his best season. He scored 11 goals and recorded six assists for a total of 17 points in 35 games. Other interesting stats: he scored three Power Play Goals, three Short Handed Goals and three Game Winning Goals, too.

San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Dean Lombardi announced today that left wing Marco Sturm has been named to the German Olympic team for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

In addition, the Sharks have granted Sturm permission to compete in Germany’s two Olympic Qualifying contests on Feb. 9 and Feb. 10 versus Slovakia and Austria, respectively. Sturm will play for San Jose on Feb. 8 vs. Chicago, miss the Sharks game on Feb. 10 vs. Carolina and return to the team for their Feb. 12 contest at Edmonton.

Sturm will fly with the private jet from Dean Lombardi to Salt Lake City … enjoy the interview:

HF: You spent the weeks leading up to the beginning of the NHL season at home in Germany. You skated with the Munich Barons of the German hockey league (DEL). This gave you the opportunity to play with and against one of the German draft picks from this year, Christoph Schubert. Since you’re a forward and he’s a defender, you should be able to give a assessment of whether he’ll make the NHL in the future. What’s your opinion about him?

MS: He’s a good kid. He kind of plays a Bryan Marchment style of hockey because he likes to hit a lot, which is what Marchment in known for. I think the people over here like that, which should help his chances of making it.

HF: Three Germans in a row were drafted this past summer by one NHL team, your SJ Sharks. Did you talk at all with the Sharks scouts or coaches about the German prospects or were you also surprised about these choices?

MS: I was surprised. Before the draft, I spoke to the scouts and (Sharks General Manager) Dean (Lombardi), but they never told me they were specifically looking at these players.

HF: You were the youngest draftee in the NHL Entry Draft class of 1996. The Sharks staff wanted to see you play for the OHL team Kingston or possibly even in their farmteam. However, you came into camp and made the NHL team one year later. 2001 first round draft pick Marcel Goc has often been compared to you – strong performances in the DEL at a young age, early debut in the national team – could he take the same path you did? What’s your opinion about him?

MS: He’s a really good center. He’s still really young and he learned a lot last season and by playing in the World Championships. This year in training camp he played well too. I’m sure the organization is looking forward to him progressing.

HF: And your opinion about Christian Ehrhoff and Dimitri Pätzold?

MS: I don’t know much about Pätzold and I saw Ehrhoff for the first time at training camp. He’s a big guy who can skate with vision. He might have a chance to make it to the NHL.

HF: Back to you. At which age did you start to play hockey and do you remember your first goal?

MS: I started playing at the age of 5 back home. My first goal? Probably around 16 or 17 years old with Landshut.

HF: You once scored two short handed goals in the same game. This isn’t the only thing which makes you a penalty killing specialist. You’re also good at fighting for the puck and creating breakaways. What would be your other strengths?

MS: My skating. If my legs aren’t going, I’m not going. I’ve worked hard on my legs the past few years to get strong and fast.

HF: In the Sharks team and in the National team, you played the center position and also appeared as a left wing. What’s the best position for a player like yourself?

MS: At center, I get to touch the puck more, but on the left side of Vinny (Damphousse) and Teemu (Selanne) I’m getting the chance to score more goals. I like that too.

HF: The Sharks have the option to extend your contract for one year, this option will be yours if you score more than 40 points in the upcoming season. Kölzig’s contract runs for one more season, too, but he signed a five year contract extension. Are you in contract negotiations with Sharks management for a multi-year contract?

MS: That (any negotiations) will go on this summer.

HF: Young NBA star Dirk Nowitzki led the German National team to sensational results in the European basketball championships. You’re very young, too – 23 years old – but the world championships in your native country helped you very much to establish yourself as a player who is able to lead a team. Will you be a future team captain or do you think you will most likely be the top scorer of the team?

MS: The National team plays during the year so I think it’s better to have the team captain there at all times. I had a great World Championship and I felt like a leader on the team. In the future, I don’t know.

HF: The Olympic Games aren’t far away. You’re a sure member of the German team. In your opinion, how good will be the team?

MS: With the World Championship performance, I think we could do some damage. There’s not a big difference on the team from the WC team, so I think we have a good chance to compete.

HF: What has been your proudest achievement or fondest memory so far in your whole career?

MS: Making the playoffs during my first season in the NHL. Also, playing in the World Championships this summer back home. The crowds were great and the team was unbelievable.

HF: Which teammates from the San Jose Sharks would you call your friend/s?

MS: Patrick Marleau is my roommate on the road and Shawn Heins lives just down the street for me. All 3 of us are pretty close.

HF: Are you in contact with any of the other German hockey players like Jochen Hecht in the NHL?

MS: Not really. Although, I do try to catch up with some of them after games.

HF: Do you follow the things who happen in German hockey?

MS: Not too much. Really only my old Barons team. I’ll talk to my old GM (Max Fedra) from time to time.

HF: Who are your favorite hockey players from the past and in the present?

MS: It sounds funny, but I learned a lot about some players from video games. Gretzky, Coffey, Lemieux, were some of the first NHL names I learned to admire.

HF: What do you want to achieve with the Sharks this season?

MS: I would love to score 20 goals this season. That’s my biggest challenge for the season. Getting this team past the 2nd round of the playoffs is also a goal.

HF: What do you do during long trips in the airplane or in the bus to pass the time?

MS: Play cards. Texas Hold Em and Poker help pass the time.

HF: You bought a house in Silicon Valley, where you like to reside during your NHL career. What do you want to do after your NHL career? I’ve heard you want to come back to Bavaria, Germany – working in the hockey business as a coach, manager, scout or something else?

MS: I love my country and I want to go back after my hockey career, but I would also love to take some time to come back to the States on a regular basis.