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Atkinson goes off on those tying production to Panarin

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Columbus Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson doesn't appreciate people saying his offensive output declined last season because Artemi Panarin signed elsewhere.

"It definitely lights a fire under my ass," Atkinson told The Athletic's Aaron Portzline. "The season before (Panarin left), I had 41 goals, and so right away (in 2019-20) people are like, 'He's nothing without Panarin.' I mean, seriously.

"(Panarin) is a great player, no doubt. But I had f------ (35 goals) the year before Panarin and (27) the year before that. People are pretty quick to turn the page without really knowing what's up.

"And shit like that ... that really fuels my fire."

Atkinson played on Panarin's line in 2018-19 when he racked up the aforementioned 41 markers, which set a personal best and tied a franchise record. Panarin inked a seven-year deal with the New York Rangers the following summer, after which Atkinson produced only 12 goals and 14 assists across 44 games in 2019-20.

However, Atkinson collected at least 20 goals in four straight seasons before the Chicago Blackhawks traded Panarin to Columbus prior to the 2017-18 campaign. Atkinson registered 53 points in 2015-16 and 62 points the following season.

Atkinson's lackluster 2019-20 numbers can also be attributed in part to bad luck, as he posted a career-low shooting percentage (8.1%). He's averaged 11.5% in that department over his nine NHL seasons.

The 31-year-old has played his entire career with the Blue Jackets, who selected him in the sixth round of the 2008 draft.

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