If Michael Cammalleri gets suspended to start the new NHL season, he's got nobody to blame but himself. When he took his stick to 18-year-old Nino Niederreiter in a nothing pre-season game against the Islanders, he looked like an ass.
Sure, Niederreiter tried to blindside Cammalleri. Fortunately, he missed. At that point, Cammalleri needed to go back to his bench and mention to Ryan White or Alex Henry that perhaps the new kid needed to learn a lesson. Alternatively, he could have challenged the kid to a fight. Using the stick to hit him, not once, but twice, was really pointless. It didn't really hurt Niederreiter, who probably overacted when he collapsed in apparent pain. It didn't change the course of the game because the opponent was so far inferior to the Canadiens. And it opened Cammalleri to league discipline and smudged his reputation.
Everybody gets angry when an opponent tries something dirty. In the case of a guy like Cammalleri, who's getting fouled every time he's on the ice, there's got to be a limit to his patience. But even so, he's got to remember he's a man who's trying to carve up a boy. There are better ways to make a point. In Cammalleri's case, he's not just any man, either. He's the top-line sniper on whom his team depends to win real hockey games. Losing it against a nobody in a nothing game could now cost his team an important player in a game or games that actually count for something. That's irresponsible on Cammalleri's part, and his stickwork is the kind of thing opponents don't forget. They know they can make him lose it, and that there's a chance he'll do something stupid or dirty.
And make no mistake, it was dirty. Whatever Niederreiter did or attempted to do, Cammalleri's reaction was cheap and dirty. A player of Cammalleri's experience, age and value to the team just can't react that way. If he gets suspended, it will hurt the team. That's just not good enough.