BOSTON -- The day after Michael Cammalleri made some disparaging remarks about his team's attitude, the Montreal forward went into damage-control mode today after his team's morning skate at the TD Garden in preparation for tonight's game with the Boston Bruins.
After the Habs practiced Wednesday, Cammalleri told NHL.com and a reporter from Montreal newspaper La Presse that he was unhappy with his ice time before making a comparison between teams with a "winning mentality" and those with a "losing mentality," suggesting the Canadiens were currently a part of the latter group.
In the Garden dressing room, he expressed confusion over why a statement like that would cause a controversy.
"Yesterday was a little bit crazy. I'm obviously not happy," said Cammalleri. "It's an emotional game, we're sitting in 12th spot, so it's not fun to lose and you want to win. So you always want to do more. That's all. I made some comments after my interview yesterday that I thought were pretty PC comments with regards to the competitive advantage a winning team has and their mentality, and the lack thereof of a losing team. I didn't think it was ground-breaking news.
"We're in 12th spot, we're not in a winning position right now. So it was some pretty impressive journalism to make all that out of that. But that's what it was for me. This group in here knows that we've got to be better. It's no secret, like I said, [we're in] 12th spot."
Cammalleri, who has only produced nine goals and 22 points for the 16-19-7 Canadiens, would not confirm whether he addressed the comments with his teammates, head coach Randy Cunneyworth or general manager Pierre Gauthier. But several players said that Cammalleri did clarify what he said with them.
Cammalleri also responded to those translating his statements about the team's attitude, and additional ones about his diminished ice time, as a message saying he wanted out of Montreal.
"I love Montreal. I just built a house in Montreal. I haven't moved in yet. But I love Montreal, I love playing in Montreal, it's surprising to me [the boos]," said Cammalleri. "I think that I've had somewhat of a love affair with the city and things can change pretty quick. But not for me. I really enjoy it; my family loves it. I really enjoy what it means to play for the Montreal Canadiens. I always have since I've been there and I've got nothing else on that."
Several Montreal players, including defenseman Hal Gill, were confident that Cammalleri's comments wouldn't fracture relationships in the dressing room.
"We don't want to involve the media or anyone outside this locker room in anything, really. I think it's about what's going on in this locker room and with this team," said Gill. "And with that being said, it's all about what we do on the ice. We're talking a lot, we're having meetings, we're trying to figure out what we need to do to be successful. But until we do that on the ice, until we bring an A effort every night, then it doesn't matter what we talk about."
Gill and others weren't above agreeing with some of the gist of Cammalleri's quotes.
"I don't know exactly his statements. But until we win, we're losers," said defenseman Hal Gill. "I think that's a tough message, maybe, but we've got to win games. You have to have that killer mentality to find a way to go out and get wins. Until you do that, you're a loser."
Said defenseman Josh Gorges: "We've got a losing record. We can't hide from that fact. If anyone wants to see it, it's right there. But I don't think that we're a team that's focused on losing, [I think] that we're a team that's trying to find ways to win, find reasons to get better, and today's a new day for us to try to accomplish that challenge."
I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.
— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic