After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis back in November, former Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell slowly made his way back onto the ice for the Carolina Hurricanes this spring, but his comeback will come to an end after Sunday’s finale against Philadelphia.
Bickell announced Saturday that the team’s games against the Blues on Saturday and the Flyers on Sunday will be his final two contests in an NHL uniform, as he will retire from the league.
"For the last couple months, from where I was mentally and physically to where I am now, it's a big change," Bickell said. "I'm just happy to finish up here and move on."
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Bickell, who was drafted by the Blackhawks and won Stanley Cup championships with the team in 2010, 2013 and 2015, was traded to Carolina before the start of the 2016-17 season, but he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and spent much of the season battling the disease.
After a long road back, Bickell finally made his return to the NHL earlier this week, appearing in his first NHL game since his diagnosis.
His Hurricanes teammates all showed up at the 2017 Walk MS event Saturday in Raleigh:
All of Bickell’s teammates were wearing t-shirts with the "#BickellBrave" emblazoned across the chest, as they supported him and his fight against the disease.
A short time after his announcement, Bickell was also saluted by the Blackhawks' Twitter account, which sent out an image of the forward hoisting the Stanley Cup:
In 393 career NHL games, Bickell has scored 66 goals and dished out 70 assists, with all but one of those points coming as a member of the Blackhawks. He fell out of the team’s lineup during the 2015-16 campaign, and he was traded in the summer of 2016 to the Hurricanes in a deal that also sent winger Teuvo Teravainen to North Carolina.
"I thought he did a great job this year doing everything he could to get back and play," Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville told the media Saturday. "And (I) commend Carolina giving him a chance to do what he had to do to get back to play again. It's a tough story, but at the same time, special guy."