It is a monumental game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Columbus Blue Jackets — a notion that is probably the first of its kind. Within the flurry of moves GM Chuck Fletcher made this summer, the straight swap of Jakub Voracek and Cam Atkinson was a hyped-up one that just appeared to work for both clubs the equal amount.
Now on Thursday, the two will be facing each other for the first time in the jerseys that the other has gotten to know so well.
“I don’t think it’s quite hit me yet,” Atkinson reflected before puck drop. “There’s definitely going to be some emotion there. I feel like it’s probably going to be more emotional when we go to Columbus, obviously, I know all of those guys over there and they have been a part of the organization for a long time. There’s more than just hockey; when it comes to friendship, and that sort of thing.
“It’s gonna be high emotion. It will be nice to get the first couple of shifts out of the way. I think it’s going to be more difficult and a lot more emotions going back to Columbus than playing here, but I know the boys are going to push a little harder for me tonight.”
After spending 10 years in Columbus, there is no doubt that it is going to be a little weird for Atkinson to play against the jersey that he has spent so much time wearing. Whether he will be treated to a true shutdown performance is still to be seen, but it will at least supply us with a little extra bit of intrigue.
As for the player that is coming back to Philadelphia, he is just thinking about facing his buddies on NHL ice.
“I don’t have many thoughts as of now,” Voracek told NHL.com. “I think everything is going to build up before the puck drop, but obviously it’s going to be weird to play against my friends. But I’ve done that in the past. When I got traded from Columbus, it was the same thing for me when we played Columbus in 2011. We’ll see how the fans are going to react, but it’s always good to be back in Philly, that’s for sure.”
At least Voracek has done this before.
A player that has spent his best years in Philadelphia and has been able to put up some points for the best Flyers teams in recent memory, Voracek couldn’t even really think of one single moment that could define his career here.
Voracek on if there was one moment during his time in Philly that really stuck in his head:— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) January 20, 2022
"There's so many of them, it's been such a fun and good ride, when you spend a decade with your friends, in one of the best sports towns in the world."
At least one thing seems to connect these two players that can now share memories of playing in either city: A love for playing for the Flyers.
“Honestly, it was relatively easy for me and my family,” Atkinson said. “Luckily it happened in the summer, so I had time to digest, and figure out where I was going to live, and obviously knowing a decent amount of players on this team. ... I love it here. For me, everything happens for a reason and I think I was born to wear the Flyers jersey.”
Oh, and we’re totally expecting Voracek to put up a hat trick or something.