After missing last season, Flyers' Atkinson plans to play Game 1
After missing all of last season, Cam Atkinson will be back on the ice for the Philadelphia Flyers first game of the 2023-24 campaign, the winger said.
The 34-year-old has the Flyers' opening game circled on the calendar, with his former team, the Columbus Blue Jackets, on the schedule.
"It's come full circle, just being hurt and looking towards coming back," Atkinson told NHL.com. "I'm going to be pretty excited to play that game no matter what, but obviously it's just a little bit more icing on the cake that it's here in Columbus."
Atkinson was sidelined by an upper-body injury to start last season and eventually underwent neck surgery in December, when he was ruled out for the rest of the year.
He credits Dr. Alex Vaccaro for his recovery after first trying to avoid going under the knife last fall.
"A lot of good synergy there and he pretty much told me and reassured me that if I don't get surgery within the next month or two, I was going to essentially almost be paralyzed in my whole left arm because the atrophy of my left triceps," Atkinson said. "I got the surgery two days later and he told me, 'I'll get you back to your elite level of playing.'
"As soon as I woke up from the surgery the pain was gone. I feel like once I got that surgery it put me over the hump to returning to how I know I can play."
Acquired via trade in the summer of 2021 from the Blue Jackets in exchange for forward Jakub Voracek, Atkinson scored 23 goals and added 27 assists over 73 games during his first season with the Flyers in 2021-22. Prior to that, he had spent 10 seasons in Columbus.
A veteran of 700 NHL regular season games, Atkinson has 236 goals and 216 assists for 452 points. He owns an additional 26 points over 35 career Stanley Cup Playoff games.