SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Bryan Bickell said he felt like he was staying with the Blackhawks when he talked at the team convention back in July.
And as Blackhawks training camp begins, he is.
“There’s always rumors and thoughts but I felt comfortable from last year to be a Hawk,” Bickell said after the first day of camp finished at the University of Notre Dame. “You don’t want to leave a team like this where we’ve been through, where I’ve started in this system, as a team.”
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Bickell said he tried to tune out the rumors over the summer. Now he’ll try to get his health completely back after a frustrating end to the 2014-15 season. Bickell struggled with vertigo as the Stanley Cup Final began against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He reported feeling better at the convention, not long after he had a tooth pulled. But on Friday, he said he’s still feeling the affects of vertigo.
“There [are] still symptoms over the course of different situations but I’m working on it every day to get better and better and hopefully it leaves sooner than later,” said Bickell, who was frustrated when he was sidelined by it last spring. “You just want to be out there. Then [over] the course of the summer you think things are getting better, then you kind of take a couple steps backwards. But I think these last couple weeks we’re taking the right steps and just need to stick with the system that’s working and hopefully it doesn’t have to take a couple steps backwards. Just keep moving forward.”
Part of Bickell’s moving forward means having a stronger season. He’s still looking to match the play he had in the spring of 2013, when a stellar postseason led to his current four-year, $16-million deal.
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“Bick, I think, is one of those players you’d like to find that consistency in his game. If he puts that all together, he’s that power forward every team craves,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ve seen him have good games, good stretches in the playoffs, regular season and in games [he’s had] good moments, but the total package is what we’re looking for. I don’t think anybody has a mulligan to have an ordinary year, in thinking that will be good enough. Everyone should have high standards, consistency; that’s where we want to have him nail it.”
Bickell needs to find that consistency again, especially since the Blackhawks lost several veterans via trade. They need remaining ones to step up and contribute that much more while youngsters/newcomers adjust. As of now, he’s got a chance to do that here.
“Chicago still wants me. And then to be here, to have this moment, I just need to have a great year. This is a crunching year for me to get ready,” Bickell said. “Hopefully I can stay here my whole career. If that was written down on paper, I’d take that for sure.”