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Flyers’ Cam Atkinson Done for Season; Sean Couturier Update

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Cam Atkinson, Philadelphia Flyers
Photo: AP.

Right winger Cam Atkinson, the Philadelphia Flyers’ MVP in 2021-22, will undergo neck surgery Wednesday and will miss the rest of the season, the team announced Monday.

Atkinson, 33, has not played any games this season. He had 23 goals and 50 points in 73 games a year ago, his first season with the Flyers.

Winger Joel Farabee said there were “some similarities” and “some differences” between the neck procedure he had in the offseason and the one Atkinson will undergo in Philadelphia.

Farabee, 22, has played in every game this season, and has five goals and 15 points in 32 games.

The Philadelphia Flyers said Atkinson is expected to make a full recovery.

Flyers coach John Tortorella was reunited with Atkinson this year. He coached him for six seasons with Columbus.

“It’s been hard for him,” Tortorella said after practice Monday in Voorhees. “He wants to be part of it. He wants to try to help. He sees what we’ve been going through a little bit here.”

‘Tried everything’

Tortorella said Atkinson has “tried everything to try to get back in, and he’s made the decision, along with the doctors, that this is be best route to go. Hopefully he’s healthy and ready to go next year.”

From his conversations with Atkinson, Tortorella said there wasn’t any fear that this could be career threatening.

“Cam is ready to get this done, and he wants to get back on track,” Tortorealla said. “There’s no question in his mind this is the best thing for him, and he doesn’t fear it at all.”

General manager Chuck Fletcher called it a “wear and tear” injury that was not caused by a specific hit.

“It’s a tough situation for him,” said Fletcher, noting  Farabee got medical attention from the Flyers’ staff and experts in Columbus. “I feel for him. He tried hard for a few months to rehab.”

Three weeks ago, Atkinson took part in his first full-contact practice with the Flyers and said he “felt really good.” He appeared close to returning. The winger got into a spirited corner battle with Rasmus Ristolainen that day, and said he was “trying to push myself to see how I do out there.”

He didn’t rule out playing the next day against the visiting New York Islanders.

“Even last week, we thought he might be able to play against the Rangers,” Fletcher said.

But Atkinson didn’t play in either of those games, and now has been ruled out for the entire season.

“He felt like he was coming and was ready to go, and was even looking at a date (to return),” Tortorella said. “And then he just has a bad day. It would not get over the hump again.”

The injury-riddled Flyers will miss Atkinson’s offense. They are next-to-last in the NHL, averaging 2.41 goals per game.

“He’s a big part of our team here,” forward Kevin Hayes said. “I mean, I went through it last year a little bit. I never had season-ending surgery, but I’m sure it’s hard on him. All he wants to do is play. He’s a very energetic hockey player. … It’s tough when you come to camp in shape and then, all of a sudden, something happens.”

Allison returning

Right winger Wade Allison, 25, sidelined since Nov. 12 with hip/oblique injuries, will be back in the lineup Tuesday against visiting Columbus, Tortorella said. He expects Allison to be a little rusty, but is eager to see him play.

He has three goals in 14 games.

Couturier update

Center Sean Couturier, who had a second back operation in late October, sidelined  will start skating soon, but isn’t expected to play until late February of March, per Fletcher.

Because of his back injury, Couturier played in just 29 games (six goals, 17 points) last season.

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