Atkinson ready to take on a new top leadership role

Cam Atkinson

While he hasn’t been a Flyer for even a full season yet, Cam Atkinson becomes one of the leading candidates to fill the leadership vacancy left by the expected departure of captain Claude Giroux.

Prior to Friday night’s game at Ottawa, interim head coach Mike Yeo announced Atkinson would be wearing an alternate captain’s “A,’’ but implied the only reason he wasn’t getting a “C’’ was in respect to Giroux, who remains a member of the team, even though he didn’t make the trip to Canada for this game.

Atkinson came to the Flyers last year in the Jake Voracek trade with Columbus and has demonstrated the same lead-by-example traits he offered the Blue Jackets during his illustrious career.

“When you’re dealing with a captain, he (Giroux) is such a tremendous leader for our group,’’ Yeo said in a pre-game media Zoom call. “Cam is going to be wearing a letter tonight. Obviously we’re not replacing a ‘C.’ Cam’s a leader for us. Who else can step up? G’s an emotional leader for us, physically, the way he plays the game. I know some younger guys can help fill that hole, so here’s their opportunity.’’

Atkinson said he learned about it means to be a captain from one of the best, No. 28.

“Obviously I take a lot of pride in being a leader,’’ Atkinson said. “Wear an A, knowing that not only management and the coaching staff respect that but the players do as well. It doesn’t change the way I go about my business. Just try to bring a lot of energy, playing the right way, do a lot of the small things which might go unnoticed but lead to bigger things.’’

Atkinson was an alternate captain with the Blue Jackets for the 2020-21 season so this is not new territory.

But he knows it’s impossible to fully replace someone like Giroux.

“You can’t replace Claude Giroux,’’ Atkinson said. “For 14 years, he’s been a leader, the captain of his team for around 10-plus. You don’t replace a guy like that. It just gives guys more of an opportunity to step up, play for each other.’’

Atkinson was asked about his own experiences with Giroux.

“There are so many things,’’ he said. “He’s helped me in so many ways, not only with hockey but outside hockey. It’s his competitiveness, his edge. When you say something competitive, he kind of challenges you. When your best player is doing it, you have to go at him, embrace it. Such a good leader; I’ve been fortunate to play with a lot of good players in my career and he’s definitely top three from those I’ve been able to learn from.’’


>Lines reconfigured


With Giroux out of the lineup, Yeo moved some personnel around.

One line which stayed together was Derick Brassard centering James van Riemsdyk and Atkinson. Yeo also likes Joel Farabee paired with center Kevin Hayes, coming off his best game of the season. They will play with Gerry Mayhew. Morgan Frost was set to move back to center for Oskar Lindblom and Travis Konecny and the fourth line of Patrick Brown, Zack MacEwen and Max Willman remained intact.

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About Wayne Fish 2446 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.