Nearly a year after he first announced that he’d been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Bryan Bickell signed a one-day contract this week to retire as a Chicago Blackhawk. After hosting a retirement press conference yesterday, he got one last chance to head out on the ice tonight, in a special pre-game ceremony that got a standing ovation from fans.
Bickell, 31, was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2004 and spent all but one of his 10 NHL seasons with the team. (He played last year for the Hurricanes, after being traded to clear cap space.) He announced his diagnosis with the disease of the central nervous system last November, though he said that he’d first known that something was wrong during the 2015 playoffs, when he was scratched from two games with what was labeled vertigo at the time. After making his MS public, he spent most of last season away from hockey while receiving monthly treatments and returned only briefly for two final games in April before announcing his retirement.
Tonight, with a moving ceremony before the Blackhawks’ season opener, that retirement became official: