On Twitter today, somebody suggested that we at The FAN 960 should no longer refer to Montreal’s Mike Cammalleri by name. Instead we should refer to him as "MC", to which I suggested we take a cue from the 2004 movie The Village and refer to him only as "he we do not speak of".
It’s not because we’re deathly afraid of Cammalleri or because we’re trying to sustain an archaic society within the walls of a forest. Nope. It’s because it pisses me, and so many others, off so damn much to see that guy, #13, ripping junk apart in the postseason with the Montreal Canadiens. Yep, that’s the same guy who wanted to stay here in Calgary, probably would have signed the same five year deal with Flames as he did with Montreal. And now look.
Is there any guarantee that "he we do not speak of" would have had the exact same success had he been playoff bound with the Flames? Well, no…11 goals in 13 games is pretty damn special. And it’s not as if his regular season numbers blow your mind…50 points in 65 games. But, looking deeper at those numbers, there’s no quesetion his January knee injury had a massive impact. Before going down, Cammalleri had 26 goals and 48 points in 54 games…using "advanced math", that extrapolates to about 73 points in 82 games. He had just two points, and no goals, in his final nine games of the season, and it certainly isn’t out of the question to think much of that was getting back up to speed.
But it’s his playoff performance that is drawing the ire of most Flames fans, and for pretty good reason. "How did Sutter let this guy go?" or "Why didn’t Sutter do more to keep him?" are frequent and fair questions. Whatever the reasons were for the Flames not to make a big push to resign him look worse and worse every day. I put the whole Cammalleri fiasco in the "bad" category when analyzing the moves of Darryl Sutter…the more I think, the more I wonder if it should belong in the "ugly" category.
He can’t play in the NHL postseason? Well, clearly that’s been debunked rather loudly. But at the time, nobody knew 11 playoff goals was in the offing for MC when he signed with Montreal on July 1st. So lets go without the knowledge of his unreal 2010 playoffs. It’s still a junk argument. No one will argue that Cammalleri did not perform as well as expected or needed in Calgary’s first round playoff loss to Chicago last year. He seemed to become less and less effective as the six game series went along. But is it really fair to make that judgement as a GM after one postseason? All kinds of players have had slow postseason starts, in hockey and in other sports. It takes more than one playoff appearance to make a reputation.
Fact of the matter is, at least so it seems, Darryl Sutter didn’t see enough value in keeping Cammalleri around, certainly not enough to give him a long term deal. I’ve heard the argument that dealing for Olli Jokinen spelt the end for Cammalleri. That may be true in the mind of the GM, but I don’t buy it as an excuse…they made him an offer, so they could have worked him in. I’ve also heard that keeping Cammalleri would have meant no Jay Bouwmeester. Is that true? I don’t know, money-wise it would have been a challenge, but if you wanted Bouwmeester enough, I think the Flames could have maneuvered to make it happen.
I don’t want to get into hypothetical numbers of how the Flames and Darryl Sutter would have made certain things work, as I’m sure many have already done it. Having everything identical from the past offseason AND keeping Cammalleri wasn’t going to happen. But regardless of the Olli Jokinen situation, I chalk this one up to a gross misevaluation by the GM…the Flames had a young, offensive talent to help build around. They didn’t keep him. And now he’s on the brink of helping his team to the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s too bad so many Flames fans saw this coming.
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