Cam Atkinson was a late addition to this NHL All-Star Game, but one could make a strong case that his last-minute nomination was a delaying of the inevitable.
At the break, only one player in the league had scored more goals than Atkinson's 24, and that would be Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. He was more than deserving.
As part of the All-Star festivities, Atkinson (along with teammates Seth Jones and Sergei Bobrovsky) were thrust into the spotlight at STAPLES Center, and all three made excellent accounts of themselves.
If many people were introduced to Atkinson this weekend, well, there are many people who now know why he's been such a key part of the Blue Jackets' early-season success.
Video: Cam on his first All-Star weekend experience
Playing mostly with John Tavares of the New York Islanders, Atkinson was one of the stars of this All-Star tournament. The Metropolitan Division took down the favored Pacific Division in the final, and Atkinson had a key goal in the 4-3 victory; his breakaway goal evened things up at 3-3 in the second half of the deciding game, and Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds scored the winning goal shortly thereafter.
"Every day was so unique and special," Atkinson said.
Atkinson finished the All-Star tournament with five points (three goals, two assists). Jones was dynamic on the back end and scored a beautiful goal against San Jose's Martin Jones in the first game. Bobrovsky, the NHL's wins leader with 28, offered some highlight-reel moments of his own - including a lunging blocker save on Sharks defenseman Brent Burns.
Video: MET@PAC: Bobrovsky robs Burns with great blocker save
It was fun. It was memorable. And more importantly, it was deserved recognition for three players who have played critical roles in the Blue Jackets' surge up the ladder in hockey's toughest division.
"It was very special to get the opportunity," Atkinson told NBC's Kathryn Tappen. "Hopefully, the first of many. To be associated with some of the best players in the world is definitely special, and to share this with family and friends is even better."
Atkinson was one of the finalists for the All-Star Game MVP award, which was eventually given to Simmonds. Bobrovsky and Washington's Braden Holtby teamed up to be a formidable duo in goal for the Metropolitan Division, and each had their own set of remarkable saves along the way.
Jones, whose skating is perhaps one of his more underrated assets, was up and down the ice in each of the Metropolitan Division's games. Coach Wayne Gretzky, standing in for John Tortorella, turned his talented defensemen loose. Jones' goal was a breakaway tally that rang both posts before falling behind Jones, and it was easy to see why he's a go-to guy for Tortorella, particularly in the 3-on-3 format.
Video: Seth Jones on his first All-Star experience
"This was kind of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was an extremely special weekend," Jones said. "I had a great time this weekend. My mom was able to here and I shared it with her. I look forward to hopefully getting a chance to do another one."