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Blue Jackets’ Cam Atkinson Blasts Critics Who Question His Offense

Cam Atkinson of the Columbus Blue Jackets is fueled by critics of his offensive prowess.

In the NHL age of prim, proper, and politically/diplomatically correctness, it is rare to find a player with a bit of fire during an interview. Because it is so rare, any kind of deviation from the norm tends to get a lot of attention. For example, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson recently showed his teeth after being scrutinized about his offensive production post Artemi Panarin leaving for the New York Rangers.

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More specifically, Atkinson was quoted in a Score article (see below) as stating, “The season before he (Panarin) left I had 41 goals, and so right away people are like, ‘He’s nothing without Panarin.’ I mean, seriously.”  He then added, “And shit like that… that really fuels my fire.”

In My Opinion

My own take – love it. I love it for a couple of reasons. As stated, the NHL can be a boring league at times. In fact, one might argue that those who speak out, get over emotional, or behave ‘differently’ are often ostracized accordingly. Secondly, despite his language (it happens!), there is a good lesson for young players within this context.

No matter who you are or where you play or how good you are – there will always be critics. In fact, the higher the level, the louder those critical voices become. Players not only have to have a thick skin, but also to be able to use that criticism in a productive fashion. As Atkinson puts it – that kind of criticism or doubt about his ability fuels his developmental fire.

Applied Sport Psychology

From a Sport Psychology perspective (my ‘other’ job), this is something I underscore for young players. That is, do not let anyone else define you as a hockey player – just because you don’t make team X, or don’t get drafted in year Y, does not make you a failure. Talent is not static although we are often led to believe it is – Lord knows we all get enamored by it (talent).

Instead, young players are advised to let any kind of disappointment fuel them – as Atkinson eloquently put it. We live in an adverse avoidant society and get fooled into thinking failure is permanent. Instead, failure or criticism or adversity should be viewed as tool to help us grow as individuals. When we change our lens to one of continual improvement it really does not matter what others say.

Cam Atkinson Artemi Panarin Columbus Blue Jackets

Atkinson clearly gets it, and I respect him for voicing his opinion. My guess is that his mindset helped him – a 5-foot-8, 170-pound, sixth round NHL selection – become the quality professional player he is today.

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