Good news and bad news
In classic Cammalleri style, his crutches were leaning against his dressing room stall as he stood defiantly while the horde of media approached him.
“The doctors are saying about six weeks, but I’ll do all I can to make it back as soon as possible,” vowed Cammalleri, who injured his left knee in a similar way in his earlier days with the Kings. “I knew it was my knee as soon as it happened. But I got my bell rung pretty good and I actually told our trainer that I wanted to go back on and test it out because I thought I could go back out there. Thankfully they didn’t let me!”
Cammalleri refused to go into detail about the most talked about right knee in the city these days.
“It’s my knee and it’s going to be about six weeks,” smiled Cammalleri wanting no part of confirming MCL, ACL or any CL for that matter. “I’m already working out and pushing myself – keeping my strength up is the most important thing right now. I’ll try not to do too much upper body, either; I don’t want to look like [strength and conditioning coach] Lorne Goldenberg. I don’t want to look like I’m carrying suitcases everywhere I go like him.”
Cammalleri’s light mood was shared by his coach. While losing your leading scorer at such a crucial part of the season is never reason for any coach to smile, Martin knows full well that the Habs may have still dodged a bullet in Cammalleri’s case.
“He will be about six weeks, but the good news is that he will not need surgery,” revealed Martin. “The important thing is for him to stay positive and to get focused on his rehab. Knowing Mike, that shouldn’t be a problem.”
With Cammalleri’s production no longer at his disposal, Martin has recent proof that his squad has what it takes to soldier on.
“Back in late November, we picked up eight of a possible 12 points with a bunch of key guys out of the lineup like Markov, Gill and Spacek, and then later we were without Gomez, Gionta and Pouliot,” recalled Martin. “The players responded well and stepped up then and I think they will do the same now.”
Called up from Hamilton following the injury to Cammalleri, Matt D’Agostini might still be a little flu-ridden, but nothing was about to keep him from his latest shot with the Habs.
“It’s great to be back, but I think I really needed it,” admitted D’Agostini. “It may have only been three games, but getting that extra ice time was great. We went over stuff I know I need to do to be successful like drive hard to net and get as many pucks as I can on net. I’m ready to go and it’s time get on a roll here because we’ve got some big games to go before the Olympic break.”
Keeping themselves in the playoff hunt is the best get well present Cammalleri could ask for. Simply playing out the regular season upon his return is clearly not what he’s gunning for.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com.
Habs this week – February 1, 2010
My Playlist: Michael Cammalleri
Cammalleri supports the courage of our troops