That is the number of days Cam Atkinson has been affiliated with the Columbus Blue Jackets. That is from the date he was drafted in the sixth round of the NHL Draft in 2008 (June 20, 2008) until Sept. 12, 2019, the date of this writing. That number continues to climb by the day.
To give you some perspective on just how long of a tenure this is, consider Rick Nash was a Blue Jacket from the day he was picked first overall, which was June 22, 2002 until July 23, 2012, the day he was traded to the New York Rangers. That is a span of 3,684 days.
Although Atkinson didn’t sign his first contract with the Blue Jackets until March 2011, this gives you a really good idea of how long he’s been with the organization. He is second in franchise history in points scored and is primed to take over second place in games played after this season only behind Nash.
Atkinson has seen and been through it all with the Blue Jackets. He signed on during the darkest days of the franchise and has experienced the lowest of lows. He has also experienced the good times as well, including leading the team with 41 goals last season and helping them secure their first ever playoff series victory.
Sergei Bobrovsky is gone. Other notable players are gone. New and younger players are ready to make an impact. And who is ready to help lead the charge of the Blue Jackets for this season and then some? Yep you guessed it. It’s Atkinson, the proud, current face of the franchise.
Cam Atkinson, the CBJ Rep
Think of who embodies what it means to be a Columbus Blue Jacket. Think of who is all-in with the franchise and the city. Think of who has invested his time and money to the community to ensure the future of hockey in the city of Columbus is bright. Atkinson checks all the boxes.
Before meeting with the media at Blue Jackets’ media day on Wednesday, Atkinson got to experience a first for his career. He got to rep CBJ at the NHL media tour in Chicago. Needless to say, but Atkinson really enjoyed the opportunity.
“That was a first for me. It was a little bit of a grind for two days. It was fun”, Atkinson said about his time in the Windy City. “It’s good to represent CBJ and see familiar faces.”
And represent he did. He got the chance to meet with the national media and represent what the Blue Jackets are all about, even if many don’t like their chances this season.
A question on the minds of many is if Columbus is really a desirable destination. What is the nation missing about what makes Columbus a preferred destination? Atkinson reiterated why it’s a great place for him and others who experience it.
“I keep saying ultimately it’s a great place to raise a family. (It’s got) great school systems, great hospitals, great restaurants. It’s a boomin’ city. Don’t knock it until you’ve been here and lived here. It’s a sports city for sure. We’re in the process of doing something special.”
How Atkinson Must Improve
Atkinson and the Blue Jackets are confident in what they think can happen this season. If they hope to enjoy success and make it to a fourth consecutive playoffs, everyone must get better, including Atkinson and his 41 goals. He addressed what he must do this season in order to not only get better, but to help get his team to the next level.
“Just bring it every single day and not take a day off. I think I made strides in that direction last year. Lead by example on the ice strictly with my work ethic. Hopefully that resonates to the young guys. It really starts in practice. I think it’s all about my practice habits that lead to game-like situations. It’s a long season so you tend to take some practices off so being more consistent in that way (will help).”
Does Atkinson see this season as an opportunity to be a mentor?
“That’s what I’m here for. I’ve been around a long time. I would hope that they’re comfortable coming to talk to me or asking me questions. I love being in that role. We’re here, we’re all in this together.”
One of the Greatest CBJ Ever
It’s been a treat to watch Atkinson grow and mature during his time with the Blue Jackets. From a young and streaky scorer to potentially trending as one of the greatest Blue Jackets of all-time, he has embraced everything about Columbus no matter what’s been thrown at him.
He’s a proud father and husband. He’s opened a hockey academy in which he takes an active role. He’s doing great work with the Force Network. He is leading by example and an advocate for what the Blue Jackets stand for.
When you think of current faces of the franchise, Seth Jones comes to mind. Zach Werenski comes to mind. Brandon Dubinsky comes to mind and so does Nick Foligno and Boone Jenner. But none of these players have been in Columbus as long as Atkinson has and have accomplished what he’s accomplished. To even consider challenging some of Nash’s franchise records speaks volumes to the total impact Atkinson has had.
When you add it all together, you can plainly see why Atkinson is the proud face of these current Blue Jackets. He’s doing things the right way and reaping the rewards for it.
Soon enough, he will be remembered as one of the all-time greats to play at Nationwide Arena. But for now, the best is yet to come.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.