November has not been very kind to the Philadelphia Flyers. I think everyone from the players down to the fans are happy to see this month go away. From the mounting injuries to the mounting losses, it seems that very little has gone right for the team.
At times, it has seemed that even the schedule has worked against them. The Flyers have been playing almost every day for the last few weeks. And either the team has been on extended road trips OR they’ve been bouncing back and forth from Philly to another city back to Philly back to another city back to Philly, etc.
In short, they haven’t had a lot of time to practice, juggle lines, or just plain rest up and heal. So, with the Flyers resting after Saturday’s loss to the Islanders and a rematch scheduled on Tuesday, the team had two days off.
Well, the team thought they did. They forgot that John Tortorella is their coach. Using the time on their hands, Torts put the guys through a grueling practice, reminiscent of the gauntlets during the training camp. The players did lots of laps and conditioning exercises. Among the exercises was a rare sight at the Flyers Training Complex:
That’s right. We have a Cam Atkinson sighting. Not only that, but he is getting a but physical with 6’4″ Rasmus Ristolainen. Check this video out:
Now, I’m not saying that Atkinson is ready to play yet. However, mixing it up with one of the bigger guys on the team is an encouraging sign. Atkinson has been sidelined all year, including training camp, with an “upper body injury”. The full nature of the injury has not been disclosed, but it has been enough to keep him off the ice and skating rarely.
Atkinson had some of his best professional years while Tortorella was coaching the Columbus Blue Jackets. When Tortorella was hired, Atkinson was one of his biggest cheerleaders. I wouldn’t be surprised if behind the scenes, Atkinson has been working with his teammates to get acclimated to their new coach.
We don’t know when he will be suiting up. Atkinson won’t be playing against the Islanders, but he is hoping to be back sooner rather than later.
"“We’re obviously being a little bit precautious right now. But I’m definitely going to be back sooner than later. Today was actually like the first full contact practice. I feel really good.”"
That’s a great sign. With Travis Konecny sidelined for a bit and a bunch of other players down and out, any possibility of a return by Atksinon is a welcomed bit of fresh air. This is a team that is struggling to score and they could certainly use a guy who scored 23 goals last year with 27 assists. Even more than that, they are missing his veteran presence.
"“The best compliment I can give a guy is calling him a hockey player. He just loves to play. It’s been killing him not to. He sees us going down this road. I’ve known him for so long now, he wants to make a difference every time he’s on the ice. When that time happens, it’s going to be a big boost to our team.” John Tortorella said after practice."
Whenever Atkinson comes back, it will be great to see him don the orange and black again. This team could definitely use him. And if he is participating in full contact practices, it could be a very encouraging sign. Who knows, maybe a Christmas miracle will happen for the Flyers!