SUN Hockey Pool

Cammalleri bubbling with excitement

Michael Cammalleri skates during the warmup prior to facing the Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre in...

Michael Cammalleri skates during the warmup prior to facing the Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Que., Feb. 24, 2011. (ERIC BOLTE/QMI Agency)

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:46 AM ET

CALGARY - It wasn’t all that long ago that the Calgary Flames were faced with having to decide whether to keep Mike Cammalleri or Olli Jokinen.

Now, they have both.

Question is, who gets to wear the No. 13 Jokinen grabbed upon his own shocking return?

“I’ve got to talk to him (Friday),” laughed Cammalleri, his voice bubbling with excitement from the Boston hotel where he was cabbed to after being pulled from last night’s Habs game and told he’d been traded.

“I don’t know if he’ll give me 13. He’s playing great hockey. I’ve really never worn anything else. Man, I’m not worried about it. I’m just so excited … I can’t wait to get there.”

The numbers game is also what prompted a move as the Canadiens cleared cap space by moving Cammalleri’s US$6-million hit for the next two years for Rene Bourque ($3.33 million for four more years) as part of the shocking swap that also included non-NHL players and picks.

Jay Feaster’s announcement was played lived on the Jumbotron during the first intermission, prompting a loud cheer from fans who adored the pint-sized sniper when he was here in 2008-09.

Both clubs move players in need of a change of scenery and a key part of the deal is the fact Cammalleri never hid the fact he never wanted to leave here in the first place.

“I would have loved to stay if it had worked out that way,” said Cammalleri, whose 39-goal season in Calgary priced him out of a team that already had cap issues.

“The writing was on the wall in terms of having to move. It was a decision they made at the time. It was amicable. We kept in touch. Darryl said what he had with cap room but said that was all he could do. There wasn’t even much of a discussion.”

There’s been plenty of talk since as the chatty Cammalleri has endless connections with many current Flames.

“I spend summers with (Mark) Giordano, (Tom) Kostopoulos and I have been friends for 10 years, (Brendan) Morrison and I got to alumni weekend in Michigan, Jarome (Iginla) and I keep in touch all the time, (Jay) Bouwmeester and I roomed together at the world juniors,” rambled the media darling.

“Getting traded is always weird because there’s emotions involved. When I found out I was traded, they didn’t tell me where, but I was really excited to find out it was Calgary. I have such fond memories of my time there.”

Jay Feaster made no bones about the fact the deal was designed to help the team’s powerplay as it pushed for a playoff spot this year. Although the deal gives Calgary the rights to KHL star goalie Karri Ramo and a fifth-round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, the Flames lose the rights to Patrick Holland and a second-round pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

The Flames don’t have a second rounder either of the next two years, which will terrify those who want things blown up. Obviously, that’s not Feaster’s focus, although he plans on replenishing both.

“They — we — are four points out of a playoff spot and I’m excited to be part of that,” said Cammalleri. “The first thing I thought of was going there and making a big playoff push. It’s been a whirlwind over the past 30 hours. I can’t wait to hit the ice Saturday. Hopefully I’ll get some sleep before then.”

Feaster pointed out Cammalleri entered the NHL as a centre and may use him to anchor the club’s second line.

Cammalleri said he was told by Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier the move was in the works for a long time and that his suggestions in the media a day earlier about the club having a “loser approach” were irrelevant.

“I never asked for a trade. If anything, I was fighting hard to come up with solutions to win,” said Cammalleri who had nine goals and 13 assists this year. “I had the greatest time of my life as a Montreal Canadien. They offered me experiences you dream about. But this … this is so exciting. I’ve got to go now and try to get a few hours sleep.”

Good luck with that.

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ericfrancis

- Eric Francis appears regularly as a panellist on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.


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