Cam Atkinson knows what to expect during a John Tortorella training camp. He experienced six training camps with Tortorella in Columbus from 2015-2021.
Atkinson has become a fan and locker-room favorite since joining Philadelphia during the 2021 offseason. He was an advocate of the Tortorella hiring in June and is excited about what he brings to a struggling Flyers team.
Today, at the Flyers Training Center, Atkinson addressed the media ahead of the 2022 Philadelphia Flyers Training Camp. He compared his first training camp in Philadelphia to his prior experiences during a Tortorella camp with a sincere answer:
“Not that last year wasn’t hard, I feel like training camp is always pretty tough; just kind of getting into battles, one-on-ones, two-on-twos, situational play, but at Torts’ camp, there’s no surprises. One thing that I appreciated is that we’re all doing it together. It’s a grind. It’s a way for us to build that comraderie and build that brotherhood, knowing that it sucks for not only you, but every guy around you. There’s a rhyme for the reason. It’s meant to be hard; so when you start the regular season you have your legs in the third period when other teams don’t.”Cam Atkinson; 9/13/2022
Throughout the summer, other teammates inquire about what to expect. Atkinson is the only player on the Flyers formerly coached by Tortorella. He knows others are anxious as training camp approaches, and he is channeling his experiences to prepare his teammates.
“Throughout the summer, a lot of guys have reached out. As we’ve been back for the last three weeks, a lot of guys have been asking more and more questions. Those anxious butterflies are creeping in, but that’s what you want. I know firsthand it’s going to be tough and I still get anxious about it.”Cam Atkinson; 9/13/2022
His training camp is built around heavy skating. Along with physical strength and toughness, the mental edge is critical. Tortorella wants his team to become the dreaded date on the calendar for opponents. He wants to know who will keep pushing hard when times become challenging.
“He wants to see who’s going to quit and who’s going to keep going when times aren’t going your way.”Cam Atkinson; 9/13/2022
The Flyers ranked 25th in goals against last season (3.26GAA.) Tortorella brings a defensive mindset with him to Philadelphia. He knows goals against must be reduced and that the team needs to play better in front of Carter Hart.
Atkinson knows it can change, he experienced the same situation in Columbus. Columbus went from one of the worst defensive teams in the league to one of the best when Tortorella coached.
“He helped us in Columbus by playing the right way; playing defense first, not always blocking shots, but playing the right way allows you to play freely in the offensive zone. It’s amazing when you do play quick and hard in the defensive zone, it usually leads to good zone time in the offensive zone where everyone wants to play.”Cam Atkinson; 9/13/2022
Atkinson isn’t worried about the moves that management made during free agency, or lack thereof. Management has been heavily scrutinized during the summer, but he isn’t letting the noise from the outside in.
“I don’t worry about outside noise. All that matters to me is the guys in the locker room. Doesn’t matter who you are, where you played, how much money you make; we’re going to play the right way, we’re going to play hard. Everytime we went to an away rink, guys knew, especially with the Blue Jackets, we were coming in to play hard. We didn’t necessairly have the highest skill in the world, but you practice how you play, and you better believe we’ll be a whole different team this year for the better.”Cam Atkinson; 9/13/2022
The Flyers only won fifty combined games over the last two seasons. The Metropolitan Division is one of the toughest divisions in the entire league, and many teams within improved during the offseason. It’s going to be a challenge for the Flyers to compete with their division competitors, but Atkinson is confident the team will be winning games during 2022-2023.
“Winning, which I know is going to happen, it’s not always going to be pretty but we’re going to find a way to get it done. People are going to know that when we come to play them, and vice versa in our home barn.”Cam Atkinson; 9/13/2022
(Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)