On June 24, 2013, the Chicago Blackhawks were on top of the world. They scored 2 goals in 17 seconds to win their 2nd Stanley Cup in 4 years. One of the big keys to their success was left wing, Bryan Bickell. Bickell had 9 goals and 8 assists during that playoff run. Everyone was on cloud 9. The Blackhawks, seeing something they liked, offered Bickell a huge contract. Bickell was given a 4 year, 16 million dollar contract. Hawks fans were excited and with good reason. Bickell was playing tremendous hockey. And just like that, it was gone.
Bickell scored 14 goals and 14 assists in the whole season–80 games. Fans started grumbling and with good reason. The guy that had been so strong and so great for the Hawks during the playoffs hadn’t done anything of value in 2014 and the Blackhawks who always struggle with cap space were not too happy either.
In 2015, the Blackhawks after failing to trade Bickell sent him to Rockford where he scored 15 goals for the team. However, multiple health issues kept him out for most of the season. Bickell himself announced that he had vertigo and his agent also confirmed that he was having issues with his vestibular system.
Bryan Bickell is Traded
The Blackhawks finally relieved their salary cap issues by trading Bryan and Teuvo Teravainen to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2015. Bickell spent most of the year down in Carolina’s AHL team; the Charlotte Checkers. At the end of 2016, Bryan Bickell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. While Bickell tried to fight through it, in the end, the pain and disease would not let Bickell play anymore. Bryan Bickell announced his retirement from hockey yesterday and with plenty of emotion in his voice made the following statement:
The Carolina Hurricanes allowed Bickell to skate with the team on April 5th and his last game will be April 9th against the Philadelphia Flyers. Bicks received a standing ovation at last night’s game.
I for one, feel horrible about this whole thing. Bickell himself was overly emotional over this whole thing. We as fans tend to take players for granted. They get big contracts and we automatically expect results. For a guy who has been through a traumatic experience, he has been an excellent fighter. The team made t-shirts that say #bickellbrave and it’s a moniker to believe in.
It’s incredibly hard to not be able to do something you love and Bryan Bickell loved hockey more than anything. He was scouted by the Yankees and ultimately settled on hockey even working as an assistant in the locker room before being drafted in 2004.
I think the biggest thing I will remember about Bickell, is his father. Bickell’s whole family was at that game 6 against Boston. Bickell had had a tough road to the NHL, being told multiple times that he couldn’t make it, but Bickell overcame, and you could just see his excitement as he scored the tying goal that day. Bickell could never recapture the gold, but having captured it in 2013 and 2015, he was able to achieve something not too many other people have been able to do.
Bryan Bickell is married and has a love of fishing and Pitbulls. If you want to learn more about his foundation head to http://Bickellfoundation.org