From the archives: Cammalleri traded by Habs mid-game against the Bruins
Swap for Flames' Bourque and Holland follows his bitter comments on Canadiens' slump
Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jaroslav Spacek on the left and left wing Mike Cammalleri on the right congratulate David Desharnais (center) for his 2nd period goal against the Boston Bruins during NHL action at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Saturday, October 29, 2011.
Photograph by: Peter McCabe / THE GAZETTE
Editor's note: This story was originally published Jan. 12, 2012.
MONTREAL - Until Thursday night, we thought the Canadiens were living a surreal season. Goofy, ridiculous, disappointing.
There were injuries, players not coming back who were supposed to be back. Coach Jacques Martin and assistant coach Perry Pearn were fired in separate sackings, Pearn turfed hours before a game, general manager Pierre Gauthier discussing the dismissal while the Habs were on the ice warming up.
Players tussled on the ice during practice. There was soaring underachievement.
It's all been one bizarre dog's breakfast that no selfrespecting canine would touch.
But the Canadiens topped it all Thursday night as they were losing 2-1 to the Bruins in Boston, a game that would be impossibly overshadowed by the Habs trading looselipped forward Michael Cammalleri, goaltending prospect Karri Ramo and a fifth-round pick in this June's entry draft to the Calgary Flames in exchange for forwards René Bourque and Patrick Holland and a second-round pick in the 2013 draft.
Between the second and third periods.
Cammalleri had a perfectly clean line on the statistics sheet through 40 minutes: no shots on goal, no missed shots, no shots blocked (offensively or defensively), no giveaways, no takeaways, no hits. . He played 9: 02 on a dozen shifts in the first two periods, and then he never came back.
There was a reason for that - he was told to take a cab back to the Canadiens' Boston hotel and await further instructions.
Funny thing, that. The Habs had checked out of their Boston hotel in the late afternoon, so with any luck at all, there was a room awaiting Cammalleri when he arrived.
The way the Canadiens have been running things, of course, he'd have been lucky had there been an empty chair in the lobby.
So endeth 2½ seasons in Montreal for Cammalleri, who arrived here in July 2009 as part of then-general manager Bob Gainey's free-agent parachute drop. He signed a five-year, $30-million contract, which now becomes property of the Flames, the team for whom Cammalleri last played.
Just hours earlier, the 29-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., had said that he and his family loved Montreal, having just built a house here into which they had not yet moved.
And now he'll bang a forsale sign into the season's first snowbank.
Cammalleri's perhaps cathartic monologue following Wednesday's practice in Brossard, with plenty to read between the lines, set the table by stirring the Canadiens' pot pretty nicely. But this wasn't a savoury stew. His words earned him no friends in his own dressing room and they had sharply increased the focus on himself among fans - and not in a good way.
On Wednesday, to NHL. com reporter Arpon Basu and François Gagnon of La Presse after practice in Brossard, Cammalleri bored a hole into his heart and dug in with a shovel.
As quoted by TSN, Cammalleri said: "I can't accept that we will display a losing attitude as we're doing this year. We prepare for our games like losers. We play like losers. So it's no wonder why we lose."
The word "losers" seems to have been inaccurately quoted, likely a matter of Cammalleri's comments having been translated into French on the RDS website, and then reprocessed back into English by the network's English TV sister.
In Basu's story, Cammalleri did strongly suggest that the Canadiens have slipped into the category of teams that have a "losing mentality," however, and there might be more than a grain of truth to that on a club that's lurched from one disaster to another this season.
On Thursday in Boston, perhaps to clarify his remarks, Cammalleri spoke to his teammates before the morning skate in advance of the game against the Bruins.
"That's really none of your business," he said curtly when asked to relate what he told them. "(Wednesday) was a little bit crazy. It's an emotional game, we're sitting in 12th spot. It's not fun to lose, you always want to do more. That's all.
"I made some comments after my interview yesterday that I thought were pretty (politically correct) with regards to the competitive advantage a winning team has in their mentality, and the lack thereof of a losing team.
"I didn't think it was groundbreaking news. . It was some pretty impressive journalism to make all that out of that."
But calling out his entire team with "losing mentality" was a mistake. Cammalleri used much too wide a brush of criticism in a dressing room that includes veterans like Carey Price, Josh Gorges, Erik Cole, Max Pacioretty and Travis Moen, all of whom not once shortchange a dollar in the effort department.
Cammalleri's healthy ego, more than the hard statistics that don't reflect well on him this season, were a large part of the reason for the heated reaction to his remarks. It's unlikely that Price, Gorges or Cole would be similarly torched by media and fans had those players uttered the same sentiments.
Tuesday's 3-0 Bell Centre loss to the homecoming Jaroslav Halak's St. Louis Blues saw Cammalleri lustily booed.
The following day, not without sarcasm, he said he'd remained on practice ice longer than usual because he needed the work to stay in shape, broadly hinting that he was unhappy with his diminished ice time of late.
With nine goals and 13 assists headed into Thursday's tilt in Boston, Cammalleri was on pace through 37 games for the leanest NHL season of his going-on nine-year career. But on Wednesday, he said he continued to have great faith in his own talent, that "I'm a better player now than I've ever been. . I haven't forgotten how to play hockey in 30 games. I have full confidence in my game."
The day's other news was that captain Brian Gionta is lost to the team indefinitely, likely the rest of the season, following biceps surgery.
Some suggested Cammalleri was almost daring the Canadiens to deal him by the Feb. 27 trading deadline, the player having seven clubs in a limited no-trade clause to which he could not be sent.
Cammalleri insisted Thursday he was not looking to get out. "I've had somewhat of a love affair with the city," he said.
"Things can change pretty quick, but not for me. I really enjoy it. My family loves it and I really enjoy what it means to play for the Canadiens. I always have."
This all is a wild twist for one of the Canadiens who "gets it," who understood the fabric of this franchise and embraced all that goes with it. Cammalleri wasn't traded here, he signed on voluntarily and enthusiastically, not that he didn't have 30 million reasons to do so.
He can take roughly 15 million of those reasons back west to Calgary now, his final moments with the Canadiens spent in a bizarre manner with an organization that defines the word.
To Calgary Flames:
-Michael Cammalleri (LW)
-Karri Ramo (G, KHL)
-Fifth-round pick in 2012
-René Bourque (LW)
-Patrick Holland (RW, WHL)
-Second-round pick in 2013
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