So Michael Cammalleri is not longer a Hab. From what I’ve seen, it seems most will not miss him. I will. Even if your perception of him is that he was something of a diva, he at least could back it up. Basically, in his time with the Habs, he was their best non-goalie playoff performer. A career point-a-game playoff man. Yes, he is slumping this season. So are Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty. So is P.K. Subban. In fact, aside from Erik Cole and Josh Gorges, it’s hard to find a Hab who isn’t slumping.
Like all snipers, Cammalleri thought he needed more ice time to get out of his slump. And like most snipers, he was not shy about saying so. You may feel that Cammalleri’s recent comments about the Habs’ “losing mentality” were graceless, that he was “calling out his teammates” when he was as bad an offender as anyone else. Well, although we may wish that every player on the team was a selfless, give-110%-every-shift, great teammate kind of player, it will never happen. Actually, it may happen, but I would bet that team wouldn’t be competitive. The fact is, there are all kinds of players and all kinds of personalities, and it’s the job of the coach to get the most out of them, whatever they are. At least Cammalleri seemed to have a brain and to genuinely love playing for the Habs.
If we are to believe Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier, the Cammalleri deal was in the works since early December (although Calgary GM Jay Feaster, while acknowledging that there had been talks with Montreal regarding Cammalleri, said that he had thought the talks were dead.) and that the deal was done, in part, to improve the teams’ size up front. Whether you believe that or not, the fact is that the key player the Canadiens received in return (René Bourque) is hardly a “character” player (ask Kelly Hrudy) and has less offensive upside than Cammalleri (and not nearly the playoff resumé). Only in Montreal would you trade a player because of his character and get in return a guy with character issues of his own.
Of course, as a Habs fan, I’m hoping Bourque will come in and give the team a spark and maybe they’ll put together a few wins. And, his current issues notwithstanding, Bourque is coming off back-to-back 27 goal campaigns (and is on a similar pace this year). So it’s not like the guy is a has-been or fourth-line plugger. Even so, it’s hard to look at this deal as anything but two teams swapping problems, hoping that the famous “change of scenery” will work the miracle that it rarely ever seems to do.