When Cam Atkinson claims “I think I was born to wear the Flyers jersey,” that pretty much writes off a lot of sentimental feelings about his former team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, don’t you think?
On Thursday night Atkinson figured to experience a wide range of emotions when he squared off against the team he had spent his entire career with until a trade last summer.
During a media Zoom call after the morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center, Atkinson acknowledged his years with the Blue Jackets were rewarding but when it was time to say goodbye Columbus he was glad he was headed to Philadelphia.
“I don’t know if it’s quite hit me yet,’’ Atkinson said of the long awaited reunion. “There’s definitely going to be some emotion there. I feel it’s probably going to be more emotional when we go to Columbus. I know a lot of the guys over there, I’ve been part of the organization for a long time. There’s more than just hockey when it comes to friendship. It definitely will be interesting.”
Atkinson came to the Flyers in the much ballyhooed Jake Voracek trade and hasn’t disappointed, leading the team with 15 goals.
On the flip side, Voracek has scored only one goal (with 24 assists) this season.
Moving back to the East Coast was one of the perks of the deal for Atkinson.
“Honestly it was relatively easy for me and my family,’’ the Riverside, Connecticut native said. “Luckily the trade came in the summer so I had time to digest it and figure out where I was going to live. Knowing a decent amount of players on this team. . .it made the transition a lot easier. I love it here. Everything happens for a reason.
“I think I was born to wear the Flyers jersey.’’
Atkinson went on to say he loves the city of Columbus and plans on making it his home after retirement. So there are still some strong emotional ties with the fan base.
That said, he plans to enjoy his time in Philadelphia and hopefully help produce a winner.
“I couldn’t be more excited to join this organization,” he said. “The history; they’ve taken me in with open arms.”
The first few minutes of the game promised to be emotional ones.
“It’s definitely going to be high emotion,’’ Atkinson predicted. “It will be nice to get the first couple shifts out of the way. I think it will be a lot more difficult going back to Columbus than playing here. I know the boys are going to push a little harder for me tonight. What better way to get a win than facing your former team?”
>Voracek in a good place
Interim head coach Mike Yeo said he didn’t get a chance to speak with Voracek, who was a star in Philadelphia for a decde. Voracek was on the COVID list recently but was scheduled to play Thursday night.
“Having a chance to work with Jake and coach him, I know how dangerous he can be everytime he is on the ice,’’ Yeo said. “It would have been OK if he had taken one more game off. I know there’s going to be emotion for both him and Cam.’’
Voracek said in a Zoom call he wanted to hook up with old friends as soon as he got to the morning skate. “And,’’ he said, “I didn’t get kicked out, which was good.’’
He had nothing but good things to say about his time in Philly, Was there one favorite memory?
“There’s so many of them,’’ he said. “It’s been such a fun and good ride, when you spend a decade with your friends in one of the best sports towns in the world.’’
>Hayes in the house
Just a couple days after undergoing a medical procedure to have fluid drained from his adductor region – which could sideline him up to a month – Kevin Hayes was back at the rink cheering on his teammates.
“It’s always great when Kevin is around,’’ Yeo said. “Anyone who knows him knows his personality, knows he can lighten up the room. We’re going through a tough time here so I don’t think it does anybody any good to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves. So it’s great to have him around.’’
Derick Brassard skated Thursday morning. Yeo said he’s feeling “optimistic’’ about a return sometime soon. . .Yeo said Morgan Frost didn’t feel a hundred percent in Tuesday night’s game against the Islanders. The coach said the off day Wednesday should help Frost’s energy level vs. Columbus.