Oh… the pleasure of playing for the Montreal Canadiens! The rumors have started around the city that Mike Cammalleri is NOT a happy camper in Montreal anymore. According to a lot of speculation, last year MC was all over the place, all smiles and very enthusiastic not only about his new team, but his teammates and the city as well.
There has even been speculation that after he played and behaved like the ideal captain last year, he felt he would be a shoe-in (or at least on the short list) to wear the “C” for our storied franchise.
Short list I can guarantee he was, shoe-in not so much…obviously! According to one of my sources who travels with the team, it would appear that Cammy is a shadow of his former self in terms of his overall attitude. Much less approachable, a little less energy and not as positive as last year.
Is this the result of NOT having been given the “C”? In this humble guy’s opinion, NOT AT ALL! This is not the type of person or player that Micheal Cammalleri is. He’s proven himself to be a “team” guy and a great player on and off the ice! There are a few reasons that he wasn’t chosen to be the captain. First and foremost because Brian Gionta was simply a better choice; He’s more mature, plays his heart out every shift, commands respect and already has a Stanley cup under his belt. Furthermore (and maybe more importantly) he follows the coach’s lead.
Putting aside the regular duties of being a team captain, there is A ton of extra pressure as the captain of the Montreal Canadiens, not only to win, but to face the media when you’re losing. As a forward, you are much more in the spotlight than a defenseman, meaning that if you’re a “D” and you have a few bad games it’s not as apparent as when you’re a forward. Mike Cammalleri is not just a forward, he’s a sniper, and when a sniper goes into a bit of a funk, it would be magnified by 10 if he were the captain. Why would you want to put that kind of pressure on your best scorer?
It’s well known within the Canadiens “family” that Mike is someone who stands up and says what’s on his mind, even if it’s in disagreement with the coach. This is something that Jacques Martin would not stand for in his captain, he wanted a captain someone that would follow his direction, and a captain that would be a little more politically correct in the manner in which he would approach disagreements with him! In other words, Cammalleri’s passion worked against him in this instance. I have made my feelings 100% clear on where I stand with JM as coach of the Habs, but I do believe that he made the right decision in choosing the captain.
So what’s going on with MC? Only he can answer that question, but from what I hear, and what makes sense to me, is that the coach and line juggling has been messing with Cammalleri’s game. When you’re a pro athlete, more specifically when you’re a goal scorer in the NHL, you want ice time and you want to be put in a position to score. If you feel that the coach is doing something to prevent those 2 things, your NOT going to be happy! Going back to the beginning of the season, Cammy was taken off the #1 line (a place where he deserves to be) and put on a line with the struggling Scott Gomez.
What JM did here was simply use #13 as a pawn in order to try and get results from the other players around him, and his game has suffered from it! The move wasn’t one that lasted a few shifts or a few games even, Cammy played with his lackluster teammate until early December, when the Habs decided to bring up Max Pacioretty and put him on a line with Gionta and Gomez, reuniting Cammalleri and Plekanec. Since the move Gomez has looked a lot better and Cammy seems to be finding his game again, something that is hard to evaluate as the Canadiens hit a slump for the good part of their year ending road trip. I can however see him on the upswing, somewhere we absolutely need him to be if we’re going to realize any success this season.
Mike wasn’t in the line-up against the rangers last night and won’t be playing tonight, as he’s suffering from some kind of virus. One thing is for sure… Captain or not, sick or not, he was watching his teammates play and wishing he was on the ice, trying to get that game winning goal. That’s just the type of player he is.