Following a playoff performance that saw him score 17 points over 23 games and win the Stanley Cup, Bryan Bickell signed a four-year, $16 million contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. It was a lot of money for someone who hadn't exactly shown himself to be a big time scorer - and it turned out, it was a lot of money he couldn't live up to.
The Hawks had to have a fire sale following their most recent Cup win in 2015, and it was always assumed Bickell would be a part of that. After all, he was overpaid, and Chicago needed to clear up cap space, and fast. But there was one big problem with the plan: it seemed nobody wanted to take on Bickell, or at least not his contract.
That was only confirmed when the Blackhawks waived him, offering him up to the league for free - and nobody bit.
So Bickell went down to the AHL. He scored seven goals and 14 points over 12 games for the Rockford IceHogs, and was one of their leading scorers; this after seven pointless games with the Blackhawks through October.
But on Dec. 6, Bickell played his first NHL game since Oct. 29. He only played 7:03, the least on the team. He still failed to register his first point of the season. But he did throw seven hits (including a monstrous one against Dustin Byfuglien), a sure sign that he's ready and willing to contribute in any way he can.
You love to see guys with that passion, that level of enthusiasm on your team. Guys who you know want to be there. As Bickell told Chris Kuc following the game, when asked about how often he thought about coming back to Chicago:
"Every day. To have a good game, it might be the next day to get called up. [I] played every day like it's my last game down there. I think I [used] that and played good hockey to help me to get here."
Hopefully, it all works out on this go-around.