Montreal traded forward Michael Cammalleri to the Calgary Flames for forward Rene Bourque on Thursday night, pulling him from the game after two periods a day after he was quoted as saying the Canadiens ”play like losers.”
General manager Pierre Gauthier confirmed the deal after the game against the Bruins, which Montreal lost 2-1 to fall to 3-8 since Randy Cunneyworth replaced Jacques Martin as coach.
Gauthier said he had been working on deals to make the team bigger for more than a month, and denied Cammalleri was traded because of his comments.
”No, not at all,” Gauthier said. ”I didn’t make a big deal about all that. There’s emotion around the team, somebody says something, I’d rather see emotion than people that don’t care. … 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.”
The deal sends Cammalleri and Karri Rammo, a goalie playing in Europe, along with a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft to Calgary for Bourque plus minor-league center Patrick Holland and a second-round pick in 2013.
Bourque, who has 13 goals and three assists this season for the Flames, has one game left on a five-game suspension for elbowing Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom in the head on Jan. 3.
Cammalleri, who has nine goals and 13 assists this season, played 12 shifts over the first two periods on Thursday night but was sent back to the team hotel before the start of the third.
That’s when Cunneyworth was told to keep Cammalleri out of the lineup to avoid an injury that might jeopardize the deal.
”It’s just something that is not too common during a game, but he was pulled away from the ice and obviously been dealt,” Cunneyworth said. ”The only message is that we’re trying to improve our team. Obviously, a general manager makes a deal only if he feels he’s strengthening the team. We feel that will be the case. That’s the only motive and we feel strongly about that.”
But the trade comes one day after Cammalleri was quoted by TSN in Canada as saying, ”I can’t accept that we will display a losing attitude as we’re doing this year. We prepare for our games like losers. We play like losers. So it’s no wonder why we lose.”
Before Thursday’s morning skate in Boston, Cammalleri told reporters, ”It’s an emotional game. We’re sitting in 12th spot. It’s not fun to lose. You always want to do more. That’s all.”
He also said he loved playing for the Canadiens.
”I’ve just built a house in Montreal,” he told reporters. ”I’ve had somewhat of a love affair with the city. Things can change pretty quick, but not for me. I really enjoy it. My family loves it and I really enjoy what it means to play for the Canadiens. I always have.”
Gauthier said the deal was made to make the Canadiens bigger; Cammalleri is 5-foot-9, 183 pounds and Bourque is 6-foot-2, weighing 213 pounds.
”We have a lot of young players that have joined the team in the last year or so and now Mr. (Raphael) Diaz is here on top of that, that are not very big,” the GM said.
”We felt that if we want to improve the club we need to be bigger up front. … 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.”