Sturm/By S. Bradley

WILMINGTON, Mass. — It’s public knowledge that Bruins winger Marco Sturm probably would be back in the team’s lineup right around now — on schedule — had he not taken the club’s season-opening road trip to Belfast and Prague.

However, it seems that the winger, who’s recovering from last spring’s knee surgery, really had no choice in the matter when it came to making the long journey. Had he stayed Stateside, he would’ve been left all alone.

“It’s tough to say,” said Sturm when asked if he would’ve stayed home if he knew he would suffer a setback. “I think it was good because it got me closer to the guys, but it was tough. Because everyone went, all the doctors went too. They always wanted me around there, but we kind of knew too … we were hoping to battle it through.”

While Sturm was able to work out fairly regularly by searching high and low for places to rehab with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides, he said the flying and the walking were the biggest culprits in his setback.

Now we’re probably looking at a mid-December return for the German-born forward. After practicing with the team today, he said he is still not cleared for contact and has to get in at least another week of practicing before he might get that clearance. Then he could be on the cusp of an actual return to the lineup. Of course, practice time can be difficult to come by.

“That’s my last step to go, is to battle and to get more practices with the guys,” said Sturm. “It’s a lot of games, so for us, me and Savvy, it’s hard because they don’t practice as much. So we just have to find a way here.”