Before Bryan Bickell hung up his skates for good and said goodbye to the NHL after an 10-year career, the Carolina Hurricanes forward was given the honor of taking his team’s first shootout attempt Sunday in their season finale. Bickell scored which helped secure a 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
At 31-years-old, Bickell is skating away from the game he loves after being diagnosed last November with Multiple Sclerosis. Bickell joined The Jim Rome Show on Monday and spoke about initially being diagnosed with the disease after struggling to find out what had ailed him since his 2015 Stanley Cup Championship run as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Bickell said he focused on the positive of finding out the problem rather than the result of it ending his career.
“At the time in ’15, you just kind of thought it was an injury, like a concussion or something,” Bickell said. “Finding out five, six months ago leading into me getting diagnosed was you knew something wasn’t right and we had to look more into it and obviously I found out I had MS. So it was kind of relieving to know there was something wrong, it just wasn’t me, there was this behind it.”
After Saturday’s loss to the St. Louis Blues, Carolina head coach Bill Peters regretted the decision to not allow Bickell an attempt in the shootout. A day later, Peters was not about to make the same mistake and sent Bickell out first this time, a memory the forward will never forget.
“It was definitely special. I know the night before we lost in a shootout and he kind of kicked himself. He’s like, ‘I should have put you in, I should have put you in,’ but you know what, I was trying to get the win, I know we didn’t win, but then he’s like should we have the opportunity again the following night, and I think it was the Hockey Gods that kind of gave me the opportunity, and he had no doubt he was going to put me first,” Bickell said. “And I was excited, it was my second penalty shot, I was happy to be 1-for-2, finish off 50 percent. I think that’s a decent mark, and I enjoyed it definitely.”
Walking away from hockey and facing his MS fight, Bickell shared advice for others who may be doing the same.
“You need to have a good mindset. I know talking to people going into this is to be positive, you can’t be negative,” Bickell said. “It’s a thing where you’re going to have ups and downs and you need to have the right foot stepped forward every day. There’s going to be good days and there’s going to be bad days, but to have that positive mindset each and every day that you’re going to go through it, and I know everything will work out. It worked out for me and my family, and we’re just taking it day by day like we started with.”