Montreal Canadiens forward Mike Cammalleri's plans for a big homecoming have been put on hold.
The 28-year-old sniper said he was excited to kick off the upcoming NHL campaign in Toronto after being raised in nearby Richmond Hill; but that excitement was negated by a one-game suspension he received for a slash to the legs of New York Islanders rookie Nino Niederreiter in a pre-season contest last Saturday. The suspension means that he will miss the Canadiens' season opener when they travel to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs on Thursday night.
"I'm not going to try and pretend that I wasn't excited to start in Toronto," said Cammalleri. "I've probably never felt this good going into a year, personally, mentally, physically, anything. I obviously have a personal connection to the city of Toronto so it'll be a hard one to watch that's for sure."
Cammalleri, speaking to the media for the first time Tuesday since the incident, said that he did not feel like dwelling on the past.
"I don't think it does anybody any good to talk about the play," said Cammalleri. "It happened and I don't really have too much to say about it."
The incident seemed out of character for Cammalleri - who has never picked up more than 50 penalty minutes in a season. He finished last season with just 16 penalty minutes in 65 games.
"I think that one of the best ways about going about being a good player is to try and focus your energy and stay on an even keel," said Cammalleri. "That's something I work on and try not to come off of very often."
Cammalleri's absence leaves a hole on the Canadiens second line. Rookie Lars Eller, who was acquired in the Jaroslav Halak trade, took Cammalleri's spot on a line with Andrei Kostitsyn and Thomas Plekanec at practice on Tuesday. Cammalleri, meanwhile skated with Ben Maxwell and Ryan White.
Cammalleri added that he has moved on and now is ready to concentrate on the remainder of the season.
"The focus is to prepare for Saturday night in Pittsburgh and doing what I can to support the boys Thursday night in Toronto," he said.