Canadiens Cammalleri accepts suspension for slash on Niederreiter

CLERMONT, Qc – Montreal Canadiens sniper Michael Cammalleri hopes to put behind him the one-game suspension he received for a two-handed slash to New York Islanders rookie Nino Niederreiter.

”My opinion would be an arbitrary one,” Cammalleri said Tuesday at the Canadiens’ pre-season retreat in the Charlevoix region in eastern Quebec. ”The league made a decision and we’ll move on.

”The only opinion that has any creedence is the league’s. I don’t think it does any good to talk about the play. I don’t have much to say about it.”

When asked if he regretted the incident, Cammalleri said ”Yes, in some ways, but to be honest, the less we talk about it the better.”

Cammalleri was suspended for the Canadiens’ season-opener for an incident that occured late in the second period of Montreal’s 7-2 pre-season victory over the Islanders on Saturday night in Quebec City.

Angry over what he apparently felt was a blindside hit, Cammalleri cross-checked the Swiss forward, jabbed his stick in his face and then chased after him and delivered a two-handed slash to a skate.

Niederreiter left the game and was treated for a bruise behind his left knee that he said did not appear to be serious.

The suspension puts Cammalleri out of the Canadiens game Thursday night in Toronto, his hometown. He will return for a game Saturday night in Pittsburgh.

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”I’m not going to pretend I wasn’t excited to start in Toronto,” the 28-year-old said. ”I’ve probably never felt this good going into the year, personally, physically or mentally.

”I also have a personal attachment to the city of Toronto. It will be hard, for sure, but we’ll get a big win.”

Cammalleri was involved in an incident during the 2009 playoffs in which he floored Martin Havlat with a hit to the face, but noted there was no league review and he received only a minor penalty that time.

Coach Jacques Martin said he accepted the league’s decision to suspend perhaps his best scoring winger.

”Mike reacted on instinct after getting hit,” he said. ”These things happen.

”He understands he made a mstake he has to turn the page and get ready to play his first game in Pittsburgh.”

Martin said it will give an opportunity to a young player—in this case, winger Lars Eller who will skate in Cammalleri’s place with Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn.

The Canadiens must make their final cuts Wednesday, but Martin gave no indication who will get the axe, although the team has put defenceman Alex Henry on waivers which would clear the way to return to AHL Hamilton.