MONTREAL – A year ago, Michael Cammalleri decided Montreal was the place for him. He wasn’t kidding.
With the ink still wet on the five-year deal he signed with the Canadiens last July, Cammalleri was immediately lumped together on the team’s height chart with newest Habs Scott Gomez
and Brian Gionta
and dismissed by many as being too small.
What a difference a season can make. Cammalleri didn’t just thrive in his new NHL home, he could’ve run for mayor. In fact, of all the big ticket signings from last summer, only recently-crowned Stanley Cup champ Marian Hossa can boast as successful a debut with his new team.
With a late-season knee injury being the only thing that kept him from being the first Hab to hit the 40-goal mark since Vincent Damphousse in 1993-94, Cammalleri had proven his point. Or had he? Any of his remaining critics still busy pointing to Cammy’s lack of playoff pedigree were quickly silenced as he led all postseason scorers with 13 goals, becoming the first Canadiens player to manage that feat since Jacques Lemaire in 1979.
Cammalleri didn’t stop at proving the critics wrong about himself, he also did much of the heavy-lifting as he and his teammates sent shock waves across the NHL by reaching the Conference Finals.
“We feel really good about this group and what we can accomplish as a team,” said Cammalleri. “We enjoyed playing together and we’re excited about our future here in Montreal.”
Cammalleri and his teammates aren’t the only ones stoked about being in the 514 these days.
“Montreal is becoming home for me. My girlfriend and I have bought a place here. She’s from Toronto and she doesn’t want to go back, so that tells you something right there,” revealed Cammalleri. “Sure, you hear about what it would be like to play in Montreal, but you don’t really know until you live it. It was a beyond-special place to play. It’s an electric feeling to play here night after night.”
Even with a solid first campaign under his belt, Cammalleri isn’t about to start getting too comfortable.
“We all took a lot of pride in what we did as a group this year. It was a nice playoff run, and it was almost what we wanted,” explained Cammalleri. “The thing is, we didn’t win our last game and none of us will be satisfied until we do.”Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com. See also
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