There are a lot of players in professional sports that go about their business every day and simply get the job done each and every season.
Unfortunately, because of the star power that is prevalent in every major sport, these guys often do not get mentioned. It’s a darn shame because some of these guys are underrated and do not get the attention they deserve.
One such player in the National Hockey League is Columbus Blue Jackets’ forward Cam Atkinson. Not only is Atkinson underrated, but no one really mentions him as one of the top goal scorers in the game, which is strange considering how often he has put the puck in the net this season.
As of this writing, Atkinson, 29, is first on the team with 38 goals and second on the club with 63 points. Yes, he is ten points behind Artemi Panarin (73 points), but in terms of putting the puck in the net, he is 13 ahead of Panarin.
The truth of the matter is that Atkinson has been one of the team’s most consistent players since joining the league full-time in the 2013-14 season. In 513 career games with the franchise, Atkinson has 336 points with 183 goals and 153 assists.
In terms of his numbers franchise-wise, they are more than solid. As of this writing, Atkinson’s numbers put him among the best players in franchise history:
- Second in points (336)
- Second in goals (183)
- Fourth in assists (153)
- Second in game-winning goals (38)
Clearly, Atkinson is one of the franchise’s best players. For starters, his offense speaks for itself.
This is a guy that puts up a solid amount of points every season and does it quietly. He’s not the flashiest guy in the world, but nevertheless, at the end of the season, his point totals are one of the best on the club.
Secondly, Atkinson may just be the team’s hardest working players. Despite being somewhat small in stature (5′ 8″), he is not afraid to go into the corners to dig out pucks, he can skate around guys who are a lot bigger than he is, and he is not afraid to play a physical brand of hockey if he needs to.
Lastly, Atkinson’s teammates, especially team captain Nick Foligno, think very highly of him. After he played his 500th career game back on Tuesday, February 12 in a 3-0 win over the Washington Capitals on home ice, Foligno said the following about what kind of player he is to Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch:
“He’s earned everyone’s respect,” Foligno said. “He is a superstar in this league. The way he plays the game and how dangerous he is, he makes us a threat every time he’s on the ice. If you watch him play, he loves the big-pressure moments in games.”
What’s also nice is what Atkinson’s head coach, John Tortorella, had these things to say about him in the same article referenced above:
“I’m not so sure there’s a more important guy on our club than that guy,” Tortorella said. “Other than your goaltender, I’m not sure who’s more important. We put an ‘A’ (alternate captain) on him because we think he deserves it.”
Luckily for the Blue Jackets, he signed a seven-year contract extension back in November 2017 that is worth more than $41 million. This means that Atkinson will be a member of the Blue Jackets for a very long time, which can only mean good things moving forward for this franchise.
Photo: Sports Illustrated