Former Chicago Blackhawks winger Bryan Bickell will retire from the NHL at the conclusion of the 2016-17 season. He gave the word to NHL.com on Saturday afternoon after hosting a charity walk to support research of multiple sclerosis, which he was diagnosed with last year.
The news comes almost 10 years to the day after Bickell made his NHL debut on April 5, 2007, by scoring a goal against the Detroit Red Wings.
Bickell, 31, put a lot of effort into making his return to the Carolina Hurricanes this season after receiving his diagnosis. That came after a stretch lasting more than a year where he went through various treatments before doctors finally figured out what was causing his health issues.
Over an NHL career spanning 10 seasons, Bickell won three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks, including one in 2013 where he starred throughout the postseason. The 2013 playoffs will forever stand out in Bickell’s career, especially because that performance led directly to a lucrative contract extension that he never lived up to.
The winger will appear in two more games with the Hurricanes, which will put his final tally at 395 appearances in the NHL. He’s recorded 66 goals and 70 assists, including career-highs of 17 goals and 20 assists in 2010-11, his first full season. He would never get back to those numbers, putting up 14 goals and 14 assists in 2014-15, which would prove to be his final full season.
Despite a relatively short career that included fewer points than Artemi Panarin has recorded in less than two seasons, Bickell still stands out as a prime figure in the Blackhawks’ recent run. He was a good role player, an even better teammate, and, by all accounts, a good man. That apparent as he’s gotten into charitable causes to research MS, and the Bryan & Amanda Bickell Foundation has long championed pit bulls through its Bick’s Pits program.
On Friday, Bickell gave a tearful interview in the Hurricanes’ locker room that signaled he was getting ready to call it quits. At the time, he indicated he needed to talk to his teammates about his future, which he appeared to do Saturday morning as the team joined him at his charity walk in a pretty fantastic moment.