Cam Atkinson is tearing up IIHF Worlds, with 10 points in Team USA's first six games. After this tournament, he's thinking of bringing something back from Europe – a new number for his sweater.
Atkinson, who has worn 13 throughout his Blue Jackets career, had to pick a different number for IIHF Worlds, as 13 was already claimed by Calgary Flames wing Johnny Gaudreau. So, he had to pick a new number, settling on 89, his birth year (as in 1989, not 89 A.D., he's not Jaromir Jagr). His Team USA linemate, Patrick Kane, who also wears a number inspired by his birth year (88), is a big fan of the move.
According to Atkinson, his play and Kane's influence may indeed convince him to make the permanent change.
Cam Atkinson says he's 50/50 on a # change to 89, his birth year, next season for #CBJ
Patrick Kane, who wears 88, suggested the switch.
Hes actually talking me into it. Hes the one who was like, Honestly, I think you should. The number looks good on you.'"
— Brian Hedger (@JacketsInsider) May 15, 2018
It's not a very common site to see a player make a number switch that late in their career without changing teams or seeing a superstar added to their current team. Mark Letestu, for example, originally came to Columbus wearing number 17, but gave that number up to Brandon Dubinsky after the Rick Nash trade, switching to 10. He then gave that number up to Marian Gaborik after the Jackets acquired him the next season, settling on 55.
More recently, the Blue Jackets have seen players like Josh Anderson (53 as a call-up, 34 in his first full season, 77 last season) and Alexander Wennberg (41 his first two seasons, then switched to 10) make offseason number changes, claiming their numbers from junior hockey after becoming more established NHL players. Similarly, Oliver Bjorkstrand originally wore 65 as a call-up before claiming 28 in his first full-time season.
Neither of those scenarios apply to Atkinson, though – he's worn 13 since at least his days at Boston College.