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February 14, 2011

Mike Cammalleri

James Wisniewski

DAVID KEON: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm David Keon of the National Hockey League's public relations department. Today we have with us Mike Cammalleri and James Wisniewski of the Montreal Canadiens. Thanks to both of them for taking the time to join us today to answer your questions. And thanks to Dominick Saillant of the Canadiens' public relations staff for arranging this call.
This coming Sunday at 4:00 p.m. mountain time, the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic between the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames on CBC, RDS and Versus will take place at McMahon Stadium in Calgary.
Mike has played in one major outdoor game, The Cold War at Spartans Stadium when he and his University of Michigan teammates took on the Michigan State Spartans in 2001. He'll also be playing against the Flames, the last organization he played for before joining the Canadiens and where he recorded single season career highs of 39 goals and 82 points in 2008/2009.
James came over to Montreal on December 28th in a trade from the New York Islanders. He has posted 2 goals and 13 assists in 18 games, giving him season totals of 5 goals and 31 assists for 36 points. He was also a member of the Chicago Blackhawks when they hosted the Detroit Red Wings at the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field on New Year's Day in 2009.
Again, we thank both Mike and James for joining us to answer your questions. Operator will open it up now.

Q. Michael, Cold War of 2001, you scored two on Ryan Miller, a lovely individual effort, and then a backhander. Can you recall vividly either of those two goals, and what are your memories of that game?
MIKE CAMMALLERI: It was a game where it was almost a surreal experience, really cool. I think maybe the first in North America, if I remember correctly. And so it kind of had the whole college rivalry, tailgate experience. So it was very, very exciting.
Of course I remember the goals. It was a big game for us. And I just remember it being a ton of fun.

Q. Thanks a lot.

Q. Hi, guys. Thanks for doing this today. Mike, I just want to know, I know you kind of started to get back on the ice. Do you feel like you'll be healthy to play in this game?
MIKE CAMMALLERI: I'm doing everything I can to be ready for the game. Today I practiced with the team. You know, I'm not able to take contact just yet, but I'm working on it. So I feel good.

Q. Was today the first day you were on the ice with your teammates?

Q. Mike, you mentioned playing in the one in East Lansing, and as you know, they had another outdoor game in Ann Arbor this year, and now we've got the Winter Classic and the Heritage Classic. Do you think there's a risk, with all these outdoor games, both at the college level and other levels of hockey, of kind of the novelty and the excitement wearing off?
MIKE CAMMALLERI: I haven't felt that. I haven't sensed that. I mean, I think initially I wondered how it was going to go as far as with the fans as far as if they were going to enjoy the viewing experience, depending on how far away you're sitting or all those types of things, the puck size with relation to football and all that kind of stuff. But it seems to be something everybody's enjoying.
I mean, especially an American fan base that's used to seeing sporting events in baseball and football that are so much bigger, I think they really relate to the whole party around the game, the tailgate experience, and NHL's done a good job with that. And then in Canada, it's just -- you know, I think it hits the emotional cords as far as the outdoors and everybody playing on a pond growing up and breathing in the cold air.
So right now I feel like it's a pretty hot thing, and I don't see it fading just yet. I mean, I don't think it would be great if we played three of them a year, that's for sure.

Q. James, can you just compare the buzz -- as a Michigan native, can you just compare the buzz of, you know, especially in the states, if you have any sense of it, of the Winter Classic versus the Heritage Classic.
JAMES WISNIEWSKI: The one that we played in Chicago at Wrigley Field, when I was with Chicago against Detroit, was also a big game because that was the first year that Chicago was in the playoff mix in the last eight years. You know, obviously, a divisional rivalry, an original six rivalry.
But I think playing the Heritage Classic and hockey being such a national sport and everybody's going to be watching that game, it's going to be quite interesting at 4:00 that everybody in all of Canada and a lot of people in the United States will probably be watching that game as well.

Q. Throw this to both of you guys. Can you give me an idea when you last would have played outdoors and talk perhaps a little bit about the difference of playing outdoors in arenas, the differences of sight lines, ice quality, and so on. Do you prepare any differently, or is this just something you go out and kind of wing it based on the conditions you're giving?
MIKE CAMMALLERI: This is like Jeopardy, Dave? You quick to the button?

Q. That's right. I should have asked this as an answer.
MIKE CAMMALLERI: First, I'll chime in on that. Yeah, I noticed a difference. I've said this before, but I think that what I really felt was it was quiet on the ice. Because the ice surface is so much smaller than the stadium itself -- the football field, I should say -- the seats were removed so much from the ice, it felt to me like we were playing kind of on a quiet pond hockey game in the middle of nowhere, and you could hear the skates and the voices. Then when a roar would come up from the crowd, you would look up and see, at that time, it was 75,000 people.
So it was kind of this cool feeling of playing in front of nobody in the middle of a pond is what you felt like, and then you'd look up and realize there was 75,000 people watching you.
JAMES WISNIEWSKI: I'll take the other part of the question. When we practiced first the day before the Winter Classic in Chicago, there was not a cloud in the sky, and it was sunny. You're literally going one way. You almost couldn't see because of the glare of the ice and the sun. I don't know how like you can compare to a winter day when you come outside your house and get out of your garage, and the sun is shining off the white snow, and it's just like a really big glare.
We were all worried that the next day was going to be like that. You could probably almost get kind of hurt because you wouldn't see a guy coming, and you could actually get steamrolled. And it's windy as well. If you're skating into the wind, it's going to be a little bit more tiring. So it has those little knick-knacks of playing outdoors that people won't realize unless you're playing the game.
MIKE CAMMALLERI: You know what else, Dave, quickly, the sticks are so light now. I remember feeling the wind on my shaft. Like I remember feeling that too.

Q. Michael, you'd certainly know that having played and lived in Calgary. The conditions could probably change 20 degrees from first period to third.
MIKE CAMMALLERI: I just heard a rumor we're going plus 8. So I've got to call my mom after this.
JAMES WISNIEWSKI: He'll be wearing shorts.
MIKE CAMMALLERI: They just bought snow suits to come watch the game. Yeah, it could be. I remember days in Calgary where we'd start walking in the city, and it would be nice and warm, and you'd take your jacket off and walk with it. And in the afternoon you're buying a parka in the store next door.

Q. The last game in '03 in Edmonton was minus 37 celsius with the windchill. Have you guys been speaking to the others about being prepared to be layered underneath in case things are cold the day of the game?
MIKE CAMMALLERI: We've been fitted for all the football type under gear type thing. So our staff's prepared for anything that comes. But we're hoping that it's not minus 37, that's for sure.

Q. Hi. This question is for both of you. When it comes to playing in an outdoor game like this, are your game day preparations any different? NHL players are creatures of habit. And also, do you stop and take in the atmosphere of the whole event, or is this just another game where you're fighting for two points?
JAMES WISNIEWSKI: It's actually something you look forward to. Being a 4:00 game, you're not going to have a pregame skate. So that takes a little different approach. Also being a nonconference game, the two points are going to be huge, especially because it's going to be middle of the end of February. The points are becoming harder and harder to get. But, you know, at the same time, you've got to look at it that we're coming down to a playoff stretch. Every point matters. It's probably going to be a playoff game out there. You're going to look forward to becoming an instant classic in Canada.
MIKE CAMMALLERI: I don't think you fight the fact that it's different and exciting. I think you prepare for the game in a serious ready to play fashion as far as taking care of yourself mentally and physically. I think it could actually hurt your focus if you try and pretend that what's going on is not going on. You embrace it and enjoy it and take in what's going on around you. When the puck drops, you go hard.

Q. This is for both guys. You know, I know Spacek played in 2008 in Buffalo. James, you played in Wrigley. Mike, you played in Michigan. Guys haven't been in that position. I'm curious if teammates have come up to either one of you guys to ask what's the big thing that surprised you or what can we look forward to that maybe you could help them with?
JAMES WISNIEWSKI: I'll tell you, first off, nobody's really came up and asked, but they have wondered how it is to play in that kind of game. It is quite exciting to live about the atmosphere of a different sport and play in your sport at the same time. Meaning playing in a football stadium, there's going to be -- I don't know how many that holds. 50,000? 60,000? How many is it?
DAVID KEON: I think it's between 40,000 and 50,000.
JAMES WISNIEWSKI: That's what it was at Wrigley Field. As Mike was saying, if the seats aren't around, you don't see people close up, but all of a sudden there's a goal scored, and you get that loud eruption of over twice as many people of a hockey rink or hockey stadium that people don't get to enjoy or live about in their hockey career. Both of us, you know, lucky enough to be playing our second outdoor game, and everybody else their first.

Q. Mike?
MIKE CAMMALLERI: No one's asked me directly, but if anyone wants to know, I'll fill them in. I think guys will just enjoy it and get ready for it. There's nothing to prepare anybody for. At the end of the day, I'll give you an old Red Berenson quote from Michigan. He used to always say, at the end of the day, there's still one center ice line, two blue lines, and two nets. So go play hockey.

Q. Hi, James. I'm just wondering, you played against Carey Price for several years. What's it like to see him night after night? What kind of goaltender is he when he's on your side?
JAMES WISNIEWSKI: That's funny because we were talking about Carey at the same time of how smooth he is. You know, nothing seems too difficult for him. He's going to become a world class goalie, and he's only 23 years old. So it's going to be quite a experience for him to live up to that. Like I said, he just makes everything so smooth and keeps us in it every single game.

Q. And just to follow up, what about playing in the pressure cooker that is Montreal? I mean, he's a western cowboy type. What do you see happening there?

Q. Yeah.
JAMES WISNIEWSKI: Yeah, he's really laid back, and I think what helps a lot of us English speaking people is that a lot of the media comes in French, and unless you speak French or can read it, you know, it just kind of goes over your head and goes right by you. Just worry about going to the rink and winning hockey games.
DAVID KEON: Thanks very much, guys, for your time today. We look forward to seeing you in Calgary.
DAVID KEON: Thanks, everyone, for joining us. Please note that tomorrow at 2:30 eastern time we'll have Alex Tanguay and David Moss from the Calgary Flames available on a call.

End of FastScripts

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