SUN Hockey Pool

Red and white delight

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:31 AM ET

Amidst the euphoria and excitement of donning his new sweater for the first time, Michael Cammalleri was also hit with the reality of what it all meant.

No longer would he just be expected to be a point producer on a bottom-feeding team from a sun city.

No longer would he ply his trade before a small fan base who cheers heartily but doesn't really invest their heart in the team.

No longer is simply OK going to be good enough.

Not now that he's part of the Calgary Flames.

Cammalleri, one of the five newcomers officially presented to the Calgary media yesterday, was reminded of what the draft-day trade that took him from the Los Angeles Kings to the Stampede City really meant.

It means expectations of winning.

It means expectations for a Stanley Cup.

It means he'll be counted on to produce night after night, expected to take some of the offensive load away from Jarome Iginla.

Bring it on, Cammalleri insisted.

"I expect myself to do it as well," he said.

"I don't know if it's not more of a motivating force. I'm not thinking about the negatives that might come with it."

As much as the Flames have cobbled together a decent supporting cast among its forwards, Cammalleri is the one newcomer who'll be counted on most to add top-line offence. He's capable, as proven by the 34-goal, 80-point season he put together in 2006-07, even if he's coming off an injury-plagued, sub-par 47-point campaign of a year ago.

However, others in that same category -- notably Chris Drury and Alex Tanguay -- weren't able to excel under the scrutiny that came with their arrival in Calgary.

"Growing up in Toronto, playing in two world junior championships, I'm not ignorant to what the hockey media's like in Canada," Cammalleri said.

"At the same time, I'm not going to pretend I've experienced it at this level before, so it will be an adjustment for me.

"I haven't set up a game plan on how I'll deal with it, but if I just do my job and be me -- be myself -- it's all positive stuff that will come of it.

"I've talked to Conny (Craig Conroy) about it and he's talked to me about the pressures that come with it, and it's exciting for me."

In Cammalleri's favour will be his personality. He's not bashful or standoffish. Media attention hasn't ever seemed to faze him.

In fact, the running joke is that he and the chatty Conroy will have to be kept separate, otherwise nobody else on the team will be able to get in a word. Cammalleri's playing style will help, too. He's always more than willing to get his nose dirty and showcase his skill, despite a 5-ft.-9, 185-lb. frame.

Plus, he's already embracing the expectations.

"I think when you have that pressure on a team to win and that pressure's put on us, it's probably a pretty good way to come together as a group of guys and really be able to rely on each other," he said.

"I look forward to that. I look forward to becoming part of something with a bunch of these guys where we've got to rely on one another to be successful every night. That's what it really feels like to be a team."

That team feeling appears to be what Cammalleri is looking forward to the most.

He's not sure where he'll play -- most likely on the wing but he's adept at centre, too.

Nor is he really worrying about working out a new contract -- being a pending unrestricted free agent after this season -- saying: "This is going to sound like a politically correct answer, but with the way the year went for me in a lot of ways last year -- it's been a great summer for me, with the trade and getting excited for something -- I'm really worried about being fully engaged in this season. I know it's a politically correct answer, but it's the truth."

His priority is to become part of something he hadn't experienced with the Kings, a winner.

"I'm a player that really feeds off my teammates, so I really want to be part of something," he explained.

"We really didn't get to that point in L.A. where we really had a clear identity as a team, where we were really establishing something, where we really got to compete at that (top) level, where we really got to figure out where we were as a team as an identity. I don't know if we got married to that concept."


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