“There’s only two or three months out of the year you can book a wedding. We kind of planned it accordingly.” Atkinson is having an outstanding season for the surging Blue Jackets, but he was the last addition to the roster when Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin dropped out. Atkinson only found out about his inclusion last Wednesday night in an 11 p.m. phone call from Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen. Atkinson immediately canceled his trip to New York, where the Blue Jackets play their first game after the break on Tuesday, and was rewarded with an experience that included slowly exchanging dozens of fist bumps with some of hockey’s greatest living legends during the pregame introductions. “That was definitely the highlight for sure,” said Atkinson, the NHL’s 11th-leading scorer entering the break with 46 points in 48 games. “As slow as I was going, it seemed like it happened too fast. But just to interact with those guys, the alumni, the best players ever to play hockey, is really special.” Atkinson wanted to shake hands and speak with every player on the ice. There wasn’t enough time to make that happen, but Atkinson did spend a few extra seconds with famed Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch. Atkinson and Leetch both attended Boston College and the same Connecticut high school. When the games started, Atkinson and Columbus teammates Seth Jones and Sergei Bobrovsky did their part in the 3-on-3 mini-tournament.
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