|Position: Right Wing / Center
Born: October 16, 1948
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Height: 6'0" Weight: 172 lbs.
Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings, 1st Round, 6th
Overall, 1966 NHL Amateur Draft
Seasons with Buffalo: 1970-71 to 1973-74
Uniform Number: 19
|Buffalo's General Manager Punch Imlach, hungry for talent to improve his fledgling Sabres team, jumped at the chance to acquire the former CHL All-Star. With his quick wrist shot, Atkinson was an asset to the young Sabres team, desperately in need of goal scoring. Atkinson made a good first impression with the Sabres in the 1970-71 season. He scored 20 goals and 18 assists, which turned out to be his career-high in the NHL. He was also the only Sabre to finish the year on the plus side in the plus/minus ratings.|
|Atkinson's scoring fell off a bit in the team's second season. He managed only 14 goals in 1971-72, including one just nine seconds into a contest against the Chicago Black Hawks on February 2, 1972. The goaltender he victimized that night was one who would soon become very familiar to Buffalo fans, one Gerry Desjardins. That goal remains tied for fourth fastest in team history from the start of a game. Coach Joe Crozier, who took over for Imlach midway through the season, was unimpressed with Atkinson's preformance. As a result, Atkinson was benched for the final three games of the season.
Atkinson got off to a fast start in 1972-73, scoring three goals in the team's first five games. He looked ready to regain his 1970-71 form, and be an asset to a young team threatening to make a playoff run. Instead, his scoring fell off dramatically after the first month of the season. By season's end, he had managed just 9 goals and 18 points in 61 games played, and sat out all but one of the team's five playoff games that spring.
|Atkinson fared no better during the 1973-74 season, watching his goal production dwindle even further. In 70 games played during the season, he scored just 6 goals, a career-low, and added a mere 10 assists.
It was due to his lack of offensive production that the team decided to leave Atkinson unprotected in the 1974 Expansion Draft. He was one of three Sabres taken in the Draft. Defenseman Paul Terbenche was picked by the Kansas City Scouts, while Atkinson and center Randy Wyrozub were claimed by the Washington Capitals. Atkinson would go on to play just one more NHL season, splitting the 1974-75 season between the Capitals and the Richmond Robins of the AHL.
After spending 1974-75 with Washington, he found himself unsigned, back in the minors, and back in Buffalo, playing not for the Sabres but for the Buffalo Norsemen of the North American Hockey League. Named Captain of the Norsemen, Atkinson was the team's second leading scorer, contributing 30 goals and 31 assists during the 1975-76 season, Buffalo's only season in the NAHL. Atkinson also skated for the Toronto Toros of the World Hockey Association during the 1975-76 season, appearing in 52 games with 2 goals and 6 assists to his credit.
Atkinson split the 1977-78 season between the Erie Blades of the NAHL and the Brantford Alexanders of the Ontario Hockey Association Senior League. Following the 1978-79 season, which was also spent with the Brantford Alexanders, Steve Atkinson retired from professional hockey.
|Steve Atkinson was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, and played his junior hockey just down the Q.E.W. in Niagara Falls, Ontario, as a member of the Niagara Falls Flyers of the Ontario Hockey Association. In his first year as a member of the Flyers, Atkinson was a member of the 1966 Memorial Cup Championship team.
In the spirng of 1966, Atkinson was the last player selected in the first round of the NHL Amatuer Draft, picked 6th overall by the Detroit Red Wings. Immediately after he was drafted, Atkinson's rights were claimed by the Boston Bruins as the future considerations Boston earned in a trade the two teams made in February, 1966.
Atkinson enjoyed a succesful career in Niagara Falls, finishing in the top five in scoring in both the 1966-67 and 1967-68 seasons. In 1968, the Flyers won their second Memorial Cup in three seasons.
Atkinson began his professional career during the 1968-69 season, when Atkinson was assigned to the Oklahoma City Blazers, Boston's affiliate in the Central Hockey League. As a rookie, Atkinson scored 40 goals and 40 assists,
|finishing second on the team in scoring behind his former Niagara Falls teammate Jim Lorentz. During the season, he earned a one game call-up to the Boston Bruins, but failed to break into the star-studded Bruins lineup. At the end of the 1968-69 season, Atkinson was named First Team CHL All-Star and was selected as the CHL's Rookie of the Year.
Following a modestly successful sophomore season with the Blazers, Atkinson was assigned to play for the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League, Boston's top minor league affiliate. He would never make it as far as the Bears' 1970-71 roster, however, as his rights were acquired by the St. Louis Blues organization in the 1970 Inter-League draft. Less than a month into the 1970-71 season, St. Louis placed Atkinson on waivers, and he was on the move again, claimed on November 2, 1970 by the expansion Buffalo Sabres.