CHICAGO (AP) — Bryan Bickell pulled a Chicago Blackhawks jersey down over his broad shoulders once again. He smiled as he posed for pictures with his wife, two daughters and parents.
It was exactly what he wanted for the last day of his NHL career.
Bickell signed a one-day contract Wednesday to retire with the Blackhawks, returning to the city where he made his debut and rose to prominence as part of three Stanley Cup championships.
“We have so much history here and I didn’t want it any other way,” he said.
Bickell was selected by Chicago in the second round of the 2004 draft and spent his first nine seasons with the Blackhawks. He was traded to Carolina in June 2016.
The 31-year-old Bickell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last November and played in just 11 games with the Hurricanes. He announced his retirement in April and scored a memorable shootout goal in his final game.
“Every day, every month’s getting better,” Bickell said of his health. “There’s good days, there’s bad days but there’s more good than bad. Things are going the right way. The technology and the treatments they come out with every month, every year, it’s outstanding. Hopefully one day we could find a cure and hopefully help out to do that.”
Bickell appeared in four playoff games when Chicago won it all in 2010, but none in the final against Philadelphia. He played a key role in the 2013 championship and made 18 playoff appearances in the 2015 Cup run.
Bickell had 65 goals in the regular season with the Blackhawks and 20 more in the playoffs, but he will go down in team history for one in particular. Bickell and Dave Bolland scored 17 seconds apart late in the third period of Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup, lifting Chicago to a title-clinching, 3-2 victory in Boston.
“We are thankful to Bryan for his accomplishments on the ice and we look forward to hearing his voice in raising awareness for multiple sclerosis as he fights the disease,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said in a release.
Chicago also placed forward Marian Hossa on long-term injured reserve, signed defenseman Cody Franson to a one-year contract and acquired forward Andreas Martinsen in a trade with Montreal. Forward Alex DeBrincat and defenseman Gustav Forsling were recalled from Rockford of the American Hockey League as Chicago prepared for Thursday’s season opener at home against Pittsburgh.
Hossa has been ruled out for the season because of severe side effects from medication to treat a progressive skin disorder. It’s unclear if he will be able to play again.
The Blackhawks sent forward Kyle Baun to the Canadiens for the 27-year-old Martinsen, who will report to Rockford. He played in 64 NHL games last season with Montreal and Colorado, finishing with three goals and four assists.
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