Couturier, Atkinson raring to go for Flyers after injury-ravaged season
The Philadelphia Flyers had a pair of familiar faces back in the mix and motivated to play when training camp opened on Thursday.
Forwards Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson each missed the entirety of the Flyers' abysmal 2022-23 season due to injuries, and both are eager to bounce back from their forgotten campaigns.
"I'm ready, I haven't had any setbacks. ... I prepared myself more than I ever have this offseason to be ready to rock and roll and be an impact player," Atkinson said.
The 34-year-old underwent neck surgery in December and last suited up for an NHL game on April 12, 2022. He added that his surgeon told him that if he didn't experience any setbacks four months after the procedure he should be good to go.
The Flyers are well aware of what Atkinson is capable of when healthy: He ranked second on the team with 23 goals and 50 points in 73 games in 2021-22, his first season in the City of Brotherly Love.
Couturier, meanwhile, hasn't played a game since Dec. 18, 2021 due to a back injury. He underwent season-ending surgery in February 2022 and was initially cleared to participate in training camp ahead of the 2022-23 campaign. However, he underwent back revision surgery in October 2022 for his second procedure in less than a year.
At his best, Couturier is the Flyers' top center and a premier two-way force. He won the Selke Trophy in 2020 and, prior to the 2021-22 season when his injury woes started, he ranked third on the team with 443 points in 692 games dating back to his 2011 debut.
The 30-year-old said he's "definitely" motivated by his detractors ahead of his anticipated comeback campaign.
"They have their reasons to question or doubt, but I know what I'm capable of and the kind of person I am and the character that I have," Couturier said. "Not only to them but to myself, I want to prove that I'm able to be the player I was, if not better."
Atkinson shared a similar sentiment.
"My whole life I've had to prove people wrong and I've used that to fuel my fire to shove it in your face," he said, per NHL.com's Adam Kimelman. "I've got to prove it to myself even more."
The Flyers finished in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division last season with a 31-38-13 record. The puck drops on their 2023-24 campaign on Oct. 12 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
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