Readying to face the media for what is expected to be the last time as a Calgary Flame, Michael Cammalleri sniffled.
"It's not the swine flu. That's the good news," he said.
The really good news for Cammalleri -- financially -- will be coming in a couple of months. Expect Canada Day to be a big party for the left winger, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, less than a month after he celebrates his 27th birthday.
Cammalleri came up with a 39-goal, 82-point regular season -- both career highs -- and is looking at a significant raise from the US$3.6 million salary he collected.
His contract situation was the first thing brought up as he readied to depart the Saddledome following his exit interviews yesterday.
"I can't believe you asked me that," joked Cammalleri, whose contract scenario has been a regular topic of conversation all season. "It's only a couple of days after.
"I've really enjoyed it here, really liked the guys. I feel like this team could have done more. I'll take a little time here, go back home, reflect on this season. I'm sure management will do the same, and we'll talk."
Unless the Flames pare a big-ticket contract from their books -- such as Daymond Langkow or Olli Jokinen -- it doesn't appear likely Cammalleri will return for a second season in Flames silks.
Still, he doesn't want to dismiss the possibility.
"I don't think it's as grim as everybody's making it for me," Cammalleri said.
"I don't think it's impossible. I have to talk to them to see what their plans are and, at the same time, assess myself and my future. But I don't think it's out of the question Calgary is one of those possibilities, for sure."
Cammalleri didn't continue his offensive production in the playoffs -- one goal and three points in the six-game loss to the Chicago Blackhawks -- but is still expected to receive a lucrative deal from a team that needs his offence and has the salary-cap space.
Toronto, his hometown, fits that bill. Vancouver's GM is Mike Gillis, his former agent, and there are questions whether the Canucks will be able to keep the Sedin twins in the fold. About the only thing Flames GM Darryl Sutter could do, outside of a major trade, would be offer Cammalleri a long-term deal -- such as double-digit years.
"Those are things I have to discuss with my agent and the pros and cons of everything, also with my family. Ultimately, you want to be on a team that's competitive, too," he said. "I have a lot of respect for Darryl and the organization here for the fact they've continued to be competitive and will continue to do so. The city of Calgary expects that and should.
"I appreciate the fans, the people of Calgary have been absolutely amazing. It's the kindest group of people I've ever met as a whole."
Cammalleri was acquired at last year's draft from the Los Angeles Kings for a first-round draft choice -- second-round picks were also flipped -- to fill the offensive void after Alex Tanguay was dealt to Montreal for a first-round selection. This spring was Cammalleri's first taste of NHL playoff action.
He was disappointed about the result but relishes finally having been part of the second season.
"I really liked it, liked the hockey. I learned some things," he said. "I think the season would be totally incomplete without the playoffs now that I've played in it."