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Gauthier: Trade was in the works for weeks

by Matt Kalman
BOSTON -- While on the surface it might look like the Montreal Canadiens traded Michael Cammalleri because of the controversy he caused with his post-practice comments about ice time and his team's attitude Wednesday, general manager Pierre Gauthier said Thursday night that the deal was mostly about his team's lack of size.

During the second intermission of Montreal's 2-1 loss to Boston at the TD Garden, Gauthier completed a deal to send Cammalleri, the rights to European goaltender Karri Ramo and a fifth-round pick in 2012 to Calgary in exchange for Rene Bourque, prospect Patrick Holland and a second-round pick in 2013.

Cammalleri played 9:02 in the first two periods before being removed from the game.

Bourque, a 6-foot-2, 211-pound left wing, has 13 goals and 16 points in 38 games this season after getting 27 in each of the past two.


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Gauthier said he'd been working on potential deals, including this one, since the start of December.

"We've been trying for all those weeks to try to get bigger up front," said Gauthier, who said the only thing holding up the deal with Calgary was a five-game suspension to Bourque, which now has just one game left. "We felt as the season started that was one of the things [we needed]. We have a lot of young players that have joined the team in the last year or so, and then Mr. [Raphael] Diaz this year, that are not very big. We felt that if we want to improve the club, we need to be bigger up front.

"And one of the reasons that it would improve the club is, we need to score harder goals. We need to score the goals that are not the fancy ones and not the outside shots. The outside shots don't go in anymore. It's the second chances, the third chances, the rebounds, the screen shots, the tip-ins. And the stats show it very clearly. And that's why Mr. Bourque was a very attractive player to us, because he scores most of his goals, a great majority of his goals, from the hard areas."

Cammalleri a 19-goal, 47-point scorer for Montreal last season, was struggling to the tune of just nine goals and 22 points through 37 games entering Thursday. After the morning skate on Thursday, Cammalleri expressed his "love affair" with Montreal and pointed out how much it meant to him to be a Canadien and that he just built a house in Montreal. One day earlier, he admitted he found the reduction in his ice time over the past few games a disappointment.

But Gauthier said Cammalleri never asked for a trade.

"The whole team's performance is disappointing," said Gauthier about the Canadiens, who fell to 16-20-7 with the loss to their hated rival. "Whether it's the veterans or the young kids and everything, it's been a hard season and we're feeling it. This is not about trading Mr. Cammalleri. This is about improving the club and obtaining a player that we feel is of a different profile and will help score as many goals, will score different kind of goals and make us bigger. We all know that's something we needed to address."

None of Cammalleri's former teammates would cop to knowing that a trade had been made during the game, including linemate Tomas Plekanec.

Michael Cammalleri
Left Wing - CGY
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 22
SOG: 111 | +/-: -6
"I don't think so, we played well in the third period didn't we?" the center said when asked about being distracted in the third period. "We had some chances … we didn't try to think about it obviously, you don't know what's going on.  You know that there is a trade but you don't know who is on it."

Coach Randy Cunneyworth said he found out about the deal just before the third period and the decision was made to pull Cammalleri from the lineup as a precautionary measure.

Gauthier said there were no hard feelings between him and Cammalleri.

"You know, I didn't make a big deal about [Wednesday's comments]. There's emotion around the team, somebody says something, I'd rather see emotion than people that don't care," said Gauthier. "I just spoke to Mr. Cammalleri. He understands what's happening and I explained to him what we were trying to do with the team. But he never asked to be traded or anything. He's part of the team and he cares a lot. That's why he made those comments."
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