CALGARY — Mike Cammalleri’s last appearance with the Calgary Flames was in the 2009 playoffs.
The club hasn’t been in the post-season since but hope to change that this year after Thursday night’s trade with the Montreal Canadiens that saw the Flames reacquire Cammalleri for Rene Bourque.
With bad weather in the east delaying Cammalleri’s arrival in Calgary until Friday evening, he’ll have just Saturday’s game-day skate to get reacquainted with the Flames before stepping right into game action Saturday night with the Los Angeles Kings at the Saddledome.
“He’s going to be thrown right into the fire,” says Flames coach Brent Sutter. “There isn’t going to be any practice time or anything like that, but he’s a smart player and he knows the game and he’ll adjust very quickly.”
Sutter, who has never coached Cammalleri before, has not yet made up his mind on who his newest acquisition will play with. Jarome Iginla and Cammalleri played well together three years ago when Cammalleri’s career-high 39 goals led the team.
But the current Flames top unit of Olli Jokinen centring Iginla and Curtis Glencross are currently red-hot and it’s doubtful he’ll break up that trio.
Cammalleri’s presence will give the Flames an injection of emotion on Saturday, and it comes after they got a boost Thursday with the return of steady defenceman Mark Giordano, who had missed 21 games with a hamstring injury.
“I know Cammy personally. I played with him before and know him from back home. The guy works exceptionally hard off ice and on ice and we all know what kind of damage he can do around the net with the puck,” said Giordano. “Any time you see guys like that who take a lot of pride in off-ice stuff and commitment in the gym and carry it over onto the ice.
“Cammy, he’s a very confident player and that rubs off on guys.”
Cammalleri will be wearing jersey No. 93, a departure from his No. 13, currently worn by Jokinen. With Jokinen wearing No. 21, the two were teammates for the latter part of the 2009 season after Jokinen was acquired in a trade with Phoenix.
“He wants to win. He’s a very outspoken guy. He demands a lot out of himself and out of his teammates as well. Maybe we’ll get a little spark in the locker-room too,” Jokinen said.
Perhaps no one on the Flames is yearning for playoff hockey more than defenceman Jay Bouwmeester. The league’s reigning ironman with 551 consecutive games played in the regular season, the 28-year-old has yet to appear in a playoff game in his eight seasons.
“Whenever something like this happens, it shakes things up,” says Bouwmeester. “We’re playing a little better now with three wins in a row and hopefully this adds to that and we can keep rolling and keep moving up the standings.”
Calgary is currently tied with Phoenix for 11th in the Western Conference, three points out of the final playoff spot.
“All you really have to do is get in, then it’s a fresh start for everyone,” said Bouwmeester. “It seems like every year there is at least one or two lower teams, whether it’s the eighth seed or whatever, that end up going a long way. So, right now the focus is just to get there.”