Cam Atkinson is ready to rock and roll as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. Before he even opened his mouth to speak to the media, you could tell he was excited about the trade. Atkinson donned a Gritty t-shirt for his first press conference with the Philadelphia media. And it only got better from there.
Trading Jakub Voracek away is a bit tough to swallow after all he did for the Flyers organization over the past 10 years. However, both Voracek and Chuck Fletcher sensed that it was time for a change. Voracek had no hard feelings about the deal and while it’s disappointing to lose Voracek, it’s easy to get excited about Cam Atkinson.
Cam Atkinson is “super excited” to play in Philadelphia
Atkinson explained how he got his now-famous Gritty shirt.
“Actually, it’s my wife’s,” Atkinson said of his t-shirt. “We spent a couple of weeks last summer at the [Scott Hartnell] residence. My wife loves Gritty. We couldn’t leave Hartsy’s without a Gritty t-shirt. Everything’s all aligning perfectly. I told her to go run up and get it. I think she actually wore this, I’m not even kidding, a couple weeks ago to bed. We’re ready for this and couldn’t be more excited.”
Hartnell played with Atkinson in Columbus from 2014 to 2017 after being traded for R.J. Umberger. In fact, Hartnell and Atkinson were linemates for a portion of that. They played 458 minutes together at 5-on-5 during those three seasons, per Natural Stat Trick.
Atkinson heard nothing but good things about Philadelphia from Hartnell.
“One of my best friends is Scotty Hartnell. He just rants and raves about what a special place Philly is,” Atkinson said. “As you can see already got my Gritty shirt, so I’m ready to rock and roll.”
The Flyers were on Cam Atkinson’s trade list, and while he didn’t ask for a trade, he said it “couldn’t have worked out any better, especially to Philly.”
“Just hearing everyone, all my best buddies who have played there and a guy like Scotty Hartnell rant and rave about fans, the facilities, all the guys and the way of life, especially as a family. I have two young boys,” he said.
Atkinson was traded on his son’s third birthday. That gave him even more reason to celebrate.
“Yeah, obviously a mix of emotions right now. It’s my kid’s third birthday. Celebrating that way and obviously have another reason to celebrate as well,” Atkinson said.
“I love Columbus, but I couldn’t be more excited to join the Flyers organization,” he continued. “I personally think I’m going to fit in very well. Know a couple guys on the team already. Special teams, I think I’ll help out as well, especially with PK. I think I fit the mold pretty well. I’m super excited.”
Atkinson brings a more well-rounded game
Atkinson’s penalty-killing ability was one of the reasons Fletcher targeted him. On Friday, Fletcher specifically mentioned that they were looking to add forwards to help on the penalty kill. Less than 24 hours later, Cam Atkinson was traded to the Flyers.
Atkinson said that he had a “really good conversation” with Fletcher after the call.
“He was just kind of filling me in with what the vision is and how special teams especially, with PK, taking a little step backward. I take a lot of pride in how I PK and aggressiveness, anticipation, and my energy,” he said. “I think that whoever AV puts me with, we’re going to have success.”
Cam Atkinson is the shoot-first winger that the Flyers need. He’s averaged three shots on goal per game in his career. He’s had six 20-plus goal seasons, including a 35-goal campaign and 41 goals in the 2018-19 season.
That was in the last full NHL season. In the 2018-19 campaign, Atkinson tied for the sixth-most goals in the league with 41. He had the eighth-most shots in the league at 295. If he can get back to close to that level, fans will be doing cartwheels in the streets.
Over the past two shortened seasons, however, he had 12 goals in 44 games and then 15 goals in 56 games last season.
This was while being coached by John Tortorella, who has a distinct coaching style. That should help Atkinson fit right in with the Flyers.
“I’ve been around a long time,” Atkinson said. “Especially playing under a guy like Torts, I’ve learned a lot, how to prepare and how to play this game the right way.”
Atkinson approves of Fletcher’s offseason & Flyers’ direction
Atkinson is the Flyers’ third major addition of the offseason. Ryan Ellis was the first big splash last Saturday and added Rasmus Ristolainen on Friday. Swapping Voracek for Atkinson continued a culture change for the Flyers.
“You can see with Chuck Fletcher and the rest of management, what they’re trying to do and bringing in certain guys, Ellis coming in and Ristolainen and other players,” Atkinson said of the Flyers’ offseason moves.
“I think there’s been a lot of guys on that team that have been around for some time, and sometimes a change is best for an organization. I think my energy alone is really going to help the team,” said the winger. “I played at BC with Kevin Hayes. I am good friends with JvR and know obviously Giroux as well.”
This summer has been the Summer of Chuck and Atkinson is excited about the direction the Flyers are headed in.
“You can see what they’re trying to become as an organization, as a team. Making some trades and bringing in some really good players,” he said. “At the end of the day, we want to win a Stanley Cup. I think Chuck Fletcher and the management crew are doing a really good job at putting all the pieces in place to do that.”
Atkinson is ready to play in front of the Philadelphia fans as well.
“You can just see how passionate the fans are, not just with hockey but all the other professional sports around, even collegiate sports,” he said. “I think winning solves a lot of problems. It seems like you don’t want to get on the wrong side of the Flyers fans. As a player, there’s nothing more exciting than when things are going really well, and the fans have your back. They’re passionate. They want to win just as much as the players do. That’s all you can ask for as a player.”
Between the Gritty t-shirt, his positive energy, and great quotes in his first press conference, Cam Atkinson could quickly become a fan favorite in Philadelphia.