Bye Bryan Bickell

Stephanie Racker   Ex-Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell has officially retired. April 9 marked his last game as an active NHL player, his 12 year career coming to a close. It hasn’t been an easy journey for Bickell, whose success as an NHL forward diminished later in his career due to health issues. That being said, Bryan Bickell played a key role in the success of the Chicago Blackhawks during their 2013 Stanley Cup playoff run and was loved by his teammates. Bryan Bickell was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks 41st overall in the 2004 draft. With the Blackhawks, Bickell won three Stanley Cups, although his name is not inscribed on the 2010 Stanley Cup as he had only played four games with the Hawks. The forward later made his NHL debut April 5, 2007 against the Detroit Red Wings, tallying one goal. After floating around the Blackhawks’ minor league affiliate team—The Rockford IceHogs—Bickell eventually solidified a spot on the roster during the 2010-2011 season. However, he made his biggest impact during the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs where he notched nine goals and eight assists. In fact, it was Bickell who scored the tying goal late in the third period of Game 6 of the Finals against the Boston Bruins, David Bolland scoring the winning goal just 17 seconds later and the Hawks clinched their second Stanley Cup in four years. Bickell’s performance with the Hawks after the 2013 Cup finals wasn’t as successful.  His production diminished and, although Chicago won the Cup again in 2015, on June 15, 2016 Bickell was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, marking an end to his 10 year career with the Chicago Blackhawks organization. In Carolina, Bickell faced the same issues that he did in his later seasons with the Hawks: offensive decline. His lack of performance had largely been attributed to the health issues he faced during his last two seasons in Chicago. Originally, it was thought that Bickell suffered from vertigo, but a definite answer for his performance only came on November 12, 2016, when Bickell was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis is a disease in which the immune system attacks the nervous system in the body. Although there are many various symptoms, Bickell exhibited dizziness and fatigue, causing difficulty in him being able to play at the best of his abilities. Since the diagnosis, Bickell’s career hit a road bump. Lots of uncertainty surrounded the forward and whether or not he could continue playing. Bickell had played seven games before the diagnosis, but only managed to play in four after due to his battle with the disease. Despite his efforts to continue playing, on April 8, Bickell announced his decision to retire from the sport after playing the last two games of the 2016-2017 NHL season. Joel Quenneville, the coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, gave a touching statement on Bickel: “You like the guy. He’s well-liked by his teammates, and he brought an element to our team that was very useful and I think his physicality in series and early in games, in the playoffs, and early in series, he could set the tone.” Quenneville ended by saying, “It’s a tough story, but at the same time, special guy,” summarizing the incredible impact Bryan Bickell truly had on the sport of hockey and those around him. ]]>