SUN Hockey Pool

Cammalleri hits golf links

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:46 AM ET

Golf and family is becoming a priority for Michael Cammalleri.

At least while Calgary Flames GM Darryl Sutter gets his own priorities in order.

Until then, the two aren't talking contract.

"I don't know the exact timeline for that, but I'm pretty sure I'll be talking to Darryl here soon enough and figuring out things -- whatever the next few months or few weeks may bring," said Cammalleri, who's back home in Richmond Hill, Ont., working out, ironing out the kinks in his golf game and spending time with his family.

"We talked before I left Calgary. I really like Darryl, and I have a lot of respect for him," he said.

"He was really honest with me and they had to figure some things out, and then we were going to talk.

"We just haven't got to that part yet. I'm sure it will be coming up sooner than later."

The Flames have a little more than a month of exclusive negotiating rights with the left-winger who scored a team-high 39 goals and a personal-best 82 points in 81 games in the regular season. Cammalleri made $3.6 million last year but will fetch far more than that on the open market. The Flames have an estimated $47 million committed to 15 players.

As of July 1, it's open season on the little sniper, who's already being barraged by people in the GTA over his next destination.

"Pretty much everybody, every single person here is like, 'So, are you going to play for the Leafs this year?' " Cammalleri said with a laugh. "I've heard it a bunch, that's for sure."

From everyone but his family, who know exactly what the 26-year-old -- who will celebrate his birthday early next month -- is thinking when it comes to his next contract.

Although there's been no talk since he left Cowtown, Cammalleri remains optimistic about a possible return.

Aside from the Toronto Maple Leafs question, one of the first he gets bumping into people back in Ontario is 'How was Calgary?'

The answer is always the same. Liked the city. Loved the fans, and thought Calgary was a great place to play hockey.

"I don't know what's going to transpire here," said Cammalleri. "But I've got a lot of positive things to say about playing hockey in Calgary, that's for sure."

Until his next contract is settled, he's watching playoffs and hoping for a longer run next time around.

"I'm kind of sitting here with my family and taking it all in and doing some talking and thinking," Cammalleri said.

"The playoffs have been pretty exciting -- I wish we were still playing."

While outsiders lay a lot of the blame on head coach Mike Keenan, who has another year left on his current contract, Cammalleri says they all have something to learn from the first-round exit at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks.

"At the end of the day, I think Mike tried to do what he thought would help us win. You can't blame someone for that," he said. "Everyone's got to take onus. We didn't get it done as players.

"He's probably got some things he'd like to do differently as well.

"Hindsight's all 20/20 for all of us."

Total those two numbers together and you've got a ballpark on Cammalleri's current score card after nine holes of golf.

He's going to try and get his estimated five handicap back to scratch over the next few months as a distraction amid the most freedom the pending UFA has had as a pro hockey player.

"I think I'm gonna get my game back this summer," he said.

If the two sides start talking soon, maybe the Flames get his game back for next fall, too.


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