An evermore-promising career in Niagara Falls in junior was typical of many a flash in the pan NHLer, of which Atkinson is but one. He was drafted a lofty 6th overall in 1966 following four years with the Flyers that featured two Memorial Cups, one in 1965, the other in Ô68.
He played one game with Boston the next year, in 1968-69, but spent most of the next two years in the minors before being claimed by Buffalo in the Expansion Draft. Here was his chance to shine, but injuries--two concussions--led to lost confidence and run-ins with coach Joe Crozier.
In his four full seasons with the Sabres, his goal production diminished consistently--20...14...9...6--and Atkinson went to Washington with the newest team in the league again, the pitiful Capitals, in the Expansion Draft. GM Milt Schmidt called him a snail after one game, demoted him, and never saw him again in a Caps sweater.
He played a year with the Toronto Toros in the WHA and from there wound up in senior hockey in Brantford, ending his career in 1978.