Thursday, July 28, 2011

Player Spotlight: Mike Cammalleri

Think you know everything about the Montreal Canadiens star sniper Mike Cammalleri? Well, maybe you do, but in today's article, we'll try to stump you with some fast facts.

Cammalleri, 29, grew up in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill - a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood. While he was raised in a secular home, Cammalleri was in fact born to a Jewish mother (and obviously Italian father) which in the eyes of Judaism make him a Jew. As a Jewish NHL'er, he is in select company, though the Habs have seen several over the past few seasons with Jeff Halpern and Mathieu Schneider making stops in Montreal. Also of note is that his #13 is not considered unlucky in the Jewish faith, as it represents the year of a boy's Bar Mitzvah - his coming of age ceremony.

Like Mike Komisarek, Max Pacioretty, and many other former and future Canadiens, Cammalleri played college hockey for the University of Michigan Wolverines (where Habs prospects Mac Bennett and Greg Pateryn play at present). While there, Cammalleri participated in the Cold War Game, an outdoor classic between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University which, at the time, set the world record for the largest crowd at a hockey game with 74,544 in attendance to watch the 3-3 tie. The record has since been topped twice, but it was still an unforgettable experience for those involved.

Not enough trivia points yet? Flash forward to Cammalleri's first few seasons in the NHL, with the Los Angeles Kings who looked past his diminutive 5'9" height and drafted him in the second round of the 2001 Entry Draft. His statistics with the Kings may be common knowledge, but how about the fact that while living in Los Angeles, he was featured in an episode of MTV's Cribs?! Check it out here:

Still want more? The 2007-08 season marked the first time the NHL played regular season games in Europe, which included a match between the L.A. Kings and Anaheim Ducks at The O2 in London, England. In a 4-1 L.A. win, the player who went down in history as being the first to score a National Hockey League goal in Europe was, indeed, Mr. Cammalleri.

In Montreal, fans know Cammalleri as a dominant playoff performer. With 13 goals and 19 points in 19 games one year ago, and then 10 points in 7 games this past season, he has established himself as a valuable piece of the puzzle to help the Habs make deep runs in the Spring. But was this the player the Canadiens knew they were getting when they signed him? Not quite. In his time with the Kings, Cammalleri never made the post-season. His first taste of the NHL playoffs was during his one and only season in Calgary, where he managed just 3 points in 6 games. With regular season point totals well below the 82 he scored with the Flames, the "surprisingly" strong playoffs from the player who was just today ranked 9th best LW in the league by Yahoo! Sports help to justify the lengthy and rich contract Bob Gainey awarded him.

Finally, you may be familiar with the famous Cammalleri "Jedi" pre-game ritual from the 2010 playoff run, but did you know that last Fall, it inspired an Easton promo piece starring the forward? See it here:

Want to know even more about Cammy? Follow him on Twitter to get updates right from the horse's mouth! @MCammalleri13

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