Sturm/By S. Bradley

WILMINGTON, Mass. — The long summer is over, and to Marco Sturm it felt longer than most because he spent the whole time rehabbing his surgically repaired knee.

That grueling work is continuing now, but at least he has his teammates around to break up the monotony.

“Of course, it’s hard. But it’s been a tough summer for me too, just mentally, because I was doing rehab by myself,” he said after working out at Ristuccia Arena today. “It’s been a long, long summer for me. So it’s definitely going to help me [to have teammates around] and hopefully going to push me again.”

The locker room camaraderie won’t be the only distraction from Sturm’s hard work on his road back (he says he’s right on schedule as of now). Wednesday night he’ll host his first ever “Sturmy’s Poker Party” to benefit the Franciscan Hospital for Children at the Liberty Hotel. Most of Sturm’s teammates will join him in doing what they always do on the road — play poker — but they’ll be doing it to help the children of Franciscan.

Sturm said he decided to go with poker over golf or another event because of the Bruins’ team enthusiasm for the game. Over in Germany, Sturm has his own foundation and has done numerous golf tournaments to aid children’s charities in his native land.

“I think it’s great. Every hospital could use some money, I just love kids and I’m glad to help,” he said.

When Sturm gets back into the lineup some time in late November or December, he should be a huge help to the Bruins. He’s pain-free right now, so at this point it’s all about strengthening the knee.

“It’s all about muscle. I need my strength back and that’s where I am right now,” said Sturm, who has been riding the stationary bike pretty hard. “Slowly, the outside running, jumping kicks in. But it takes time.”