BOSTON – A loss to the Bruins was far from the main story surrounding the Canadiens on Thursday night.
The Habs proved Thurdsay night just how fast things can move in professional hockey, when Michael Cammalleri started the game as a Canadien and was taken out of the lineup before the third period, already a Calgary Flame.
With rumors quickly circulating, players in the Habs dressing room following the game were as surprised to hear the news as Cammalleri likely was to not have finished the game with his teammates. While they were hitting the ice for the night’s third frame, the team’s former sniper was in a taxi heading back to the hotel, and then onto Calgary.
“No one knew any details of what happened other than that Michael wasn’t on the bench. The guys were concentrating on playing the third period,” stated head coach Randy Cunneyworth of Cammalleri’s conspicuous absence from the bench. “I learned about the trade just before the start of the third. With the point of avoiding any injuries or things that could occur on the ice and jeopardizing the trade, it was decided that the best thing was to take him out of the lineup.
“The only message that was sent by this trade is that we’re constantly trying to improve our team,” finished Cunneyworth before making way for general manager Pierre Gauthier to address the media.
“The Montreal Canadiens traded Michael Cammalleri today to the Calgary Flames in addition to the rights to Mr. Karri Ramo who’s a goaltender that plays in Europe and a fifth round pick in 2012,” explained Gauthier on the surprise decision of the season. “In exchange for these people and assets, we obtained left winger René Bourque from the Calgary Flames in addition to a good, young prospect from the Tri-Cities named Patrick Holland, a centerman, and a second round pick in 2013.
“It was tough timing because you pull a guy off after two periods in a very tight game,” continued the Habs GM. “But it’s not the first time it happens and it was the right thing to do for all parties.”
In Bourque, the Canadiens acquire a power-forward with tallies of 27 goals in each of his last two seasons with the Flames. Over 38 games in his 2011-12 campaign, the 6-foot-2, 211 pound winger has 13 goals and three assists. Habs fans may remember him as the Flame who scored a pair of goals against the Canadiens to become the first star of the Heritage Classic last season.
“This is a trade, amongst other discussions, has been going on for a while. It’s very tough to make deals right now because of the cap and the league being so close,” admitted Gauthier. “But we’ve been trying for these past weeks to get bigger up front. We have a lot of young players that have joined the team in the last year or so that aren’t very big.
“We felt that if we wanted to improve the club we have to be bigger up front. We need to score harder goals. We need to score goals from the tough areas with the second chances, third chances and screen shots,” continued Gauthier. “That’s why Mr. Bourque was very attractive to us, because he scores a great majority of his goals from the hard areas.”
Bourque, who will serve the final game of a five game suspension for his elbow to the head of the Capitals’ Backstrom in Saturday night’s tilt against the Senators, will be available to play his first game as a Hab the following day as the team takes on the Rangers. Before leaving the TD Garden, Gauthier made sure to clear up any speculation that Cammalleri’s recent comments were related to the trade.
“The comments Mr. Cammalleri made had nothing to with it at all. I explained to him the situation and what we’re trying to do with the team, but he never asked to be traded. He cared a lot about this team.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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