Along with the decision to relieve John Stevens of his coaching duties, Rob Blake, GM of the Los Angeles Kings, also elected to dismiss assistant coach Don Nachbaur. To replace him: Marco Sturm, a former NHL player and German national whose only coaching experience to date has been with the German men’s national team. So who is Marco Sturm, and why select him to be an assistant coach?
Born in Dingolfing, West Germany, Marco Sturm got his start in professional hockey with EV Landshut in the German Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) in 1995. The following year, he would be drafted 21st overall by the San Jose Sharks. He would play one more season in the DEL before making the jump to the NHL.
Described as a smooth, speedy, skating, two-way winger, Sturm would tally 10 goals and 20 assists in his first season. From 1997 to 2005, he would average 30 points per year with the Sharks and he earned All-Star honors in 1999. After seven seasons, San Jose traded Sturm to the Boston Bruins as part of a package deal for Joe Thornton in 2005.
For the next three years he would be a regular in the Boston lineup. In 2008, Sturm suffered a knee injury causing him to miss a significant portion of the season. In 2010 he would re-injure the knee during the playoffs, forcing him out for the remainder of the season. Next year, he would be traded to the Kings and then subsequently waived after 17 games, and would play another 18 games for the Washington Capitals.
Now an unrestricted free agent, he would sign with the Vancouver Canucks in July 2011, but was traded to Florida in October of the same year. He would end his NHL career having played 938 games.
In 2013, Sturm would sign with the Kolner Haie in the DEL but eventually announced his retirement in January 2014.
Following his playing career, Sturm would be named head coach and manager of the German men’s national team on July 10, 2015.
In 2016 and 2017, he would lead the Germans to the quarterfinals of the IIHF World Championship, which is held every year during the summer.
His crowning achievement to date came during the 2018 Winter Olympics when he led the German team, a perennial underdog, on an incredible run to the finals, falling to the Russians 4-3 in overtime.
Commentators during the final game would repeatedly comment on the effect his coaching had on the team, even stating at one point that he had the German team playing “NHL style” hockey. Others hypothesized that it would not be long before NHL teams would come calling.
What he can do for the Kings?
Although not an overly experienced coach, his resume is impressive. When he took over the reins of the German men’s national team, it was noted in an article by Deutsche Welle (DW), the German players had a renewed want to play for their national team due to Sturm’s reputation as a player and his methodologies as a coach. Throughout the tournament, the German team was continually praised for its disciplined defense and ability to counter attack.
With the removal of Don Nachbaur, it will be interesting to see what effect Sturm’s coaching will have on the Kings. Rob Blake was quoted in DW stating “…LA chose Sturm because of his ‘new generational coaching style’ and his skills in ‘player relations’.” We can only assume that this is an attempt to bring in a fresh perspective in to the coaching staff, and his “player relations” skills exemplify his ability to effectively manage personalities and egos within a team.
For his part, Sturm said: “The timing of the offer was also surprising for me. But the NHL has always been my goal, even as a coach, so it’s a dream come true for me. I’m nothing but grateful to DEB for making this step possible.”
If what Marco Sturm accomplished with the German men’s national team is any indication of his ability, then watching the effect he has on the Kings roster will be a fun and interesting story to follow throughout the season, and we wish him the best of luck.