“I didn’t want it any other way”
The Chicago Blackhawks made it official this morning, signing former forward Bryan Bickell to a one-day contract. The ceremonial signing means that Bickell will be able to officially retire as a Chicago Blackhawk, Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh reported Tuesday night.
Bickell spent almost a decade in the organization. He was drafted in the second round back in 2004 by the Blackhawks. The Orono, Ontario, Canada native made his Blackhawks debut on April 5, 2007, scoring his first NHL goal against the Detroit Red Wings. Bickell would remain with the Rockford Ice Hogs for the duration of three seasons. He was recalled during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, playing four games and tallying an assist.
Bickell finally became a mainstay with the club during the 2010-2011 season, but he didn’t become a household name with the Hawks faithful until the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He tallied nine goals and eight assists during that postseason, including arguably his most famous one, a game-tying goal with less than two minutes left in the third period of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final versus the Boston Bruins. 17 seconds later, Dave Bolland scores the go-ahead goal, and the rest, as they say, is Chicago Blackhawks history.
Unfortunately, Bickell’s production became negligent after his monstrous post-season performance. The deal that he signed after the 2013 offseason became an albatross of sorts for the club. Prior to the start of the 2015-2016 season, the organization tried in vain to trade him. The team initially waived Bickell, but reinstated him to the roster when he cleared waivers. He struggled with his performance due to health reasons, and spent much of that season in Rockford. After that season, Bickell, along with F Teuvo Teravainen, was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for two high draft picks. He struggled with the Hurricanes as well, scoring one goal in seven games, before the Hurricanes announced that Bickell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He was placed on LTIR on November 12, 2016.
Bickell announced his retirement on April 8, 2017. The next day, on his final NHL game, he scored a shootout goal on the road against the Philadelphia Flyers.
When asked this morning during his press conference after signing the one day contract with the Blackhawks, Bickell said that it was a really a no-brainer. He said that the organization contacted him shortly after he announced his retirement last April.
“It was great to be a part of it, and we have so much history here. I didn’t want it any other way”.
On a personal note, this writer wants to commend the Chicago Blackhawks organization for doing this for Bickell. In my opinion, Bickell’s exploits during the 2013 Cup run will forever be the stuff of Blackhawks lore. Hockey pundits always talk about how the Blackhawks have this extra gear, this tenacity in the face of insurmountable adversity. Bryan Bickell embodies that. That makes him, in my opinion, worthy of consideration as one of the best hockey players to ever wear the Indian Head.
This current stretch of time that we are in right now, this time that can arguably be considered as one of the greatest in Blackhawks history, when this “dynasty” of ours finally reaches its nadir, we will always remember Bryan Bickell as one of its more important figures.
And we wouldn’t have it any other way.