Carolina winger Bryan Bickell has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the Hurricanes announced today. The 30-year-old is expected to take time away from the game to rest and to consider his treatment options.
Multiple sclerosis affects the central nervous system, and while symptoms vary from person to person (and can come and go without apparent reason), Bickell has suffered from balance issues for more than a year. He struggled with Chicago in the 2015 playoffs and was scratched from two Finals games, with what he originally believed was vertigo. His symptoms flared up again before the 2015-16 season, and a vestibular disorder was diagnosed. He struggled again last season, and spent much of it in the AHL.
“Since the 2015 playoffs, I’ve been struggling to understand what was going on with my body. Again during the past few weeks, it felt like something wasn’t right,” said Bickell. “Obviously this is a bit of shock for my family and me, but I am hopeful I will be able to return to the ice and continue playing the game that I love.”
Bickell, who won three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks, was traded to Carolina this offseason in a move to free up cap room. In seven games with the Hurricanes, Bickell has scored one goal.