WILMINGTON —Mark Stuart  entered the season as an important part of the Bruins’ blue line, and a guy who seemed a fit to one day wear a letter other than “B” on his jersey. After missing the 18 games with a fractured hand a dislocated finger, thing have been much different. With the emergence of Steven Kampfer and solid play of Adam McQuaid, Stuart knew while on the mend that his spot in the lineup would not be guaranteed.
‘You have to earn your way back,” Stuart said on Jan. 13. “I don’t care who you are. ‘¦ Guys are playing well. It would probably be different if the team was on a downswing and they were looking to change things up.”
Unfortunately for Stuart, his prediction was dead-on, as he has played in just three games since returning to the lineup on Jan. 17. A free agent at the end of the season, he has been a healthy scratch for the last eight games entering Sunday’s contest vs. the Red Wings in Detroit.
“I hoped it wouldn’t be this long,” Stuart said in a conversation with WEEI.com Saturday, “but that’s just the way it’s gone.”
Stuart has had to spend plenty of time recovering from injuries, and went down with his injury on Dec. 7 against the Sabres, it was just another in a long series for the blueliner. Last season, hand, finger, and sternum injuries cost him a combined 35 games.
Despite knowing what it’s like to watch from the press box, doing so when you’re healthy enough to be on the ice is even tougher.
“It’s probably harder when you could be out there,” Stuart said. “On the other hand, you’re healthy, too,” Stuart said, knocking on his wooden stall. “It’s obviously a lot better to be healthy, but it’s almost harder watching a game when you could be out there.”
As for what his future may hold, it’s hard to imagine someone on a one-year deal being happy with not being a healthy scratch. His name has been tossed around in trade rumors, with some speculating on whether he could be moved at the trade deadline. General manager Peter Chiarelli recently declined comment on what the market has been for Stuart, but if the defenseman had his way, he’d be playing in the same sweater he’s always worn.
“I would love to [stay] here. I’ve been here my whole career, and I love it here,” Stuart said. “There’s always rumors, but I’m not packing my bags yet or subletting my apartment until I get the call.”