Blackhawks

Bryan Bickell on fighting MS: 'Nothing’s going to slow me down'

Bryan Bickell on fighting MS: 'Nothing’s going to slow me down'

RALEIGH, N.C. – Bryan Bickell had the familiar grin on his face. The easygoing demeanor is still there, too.

Decked out in a burgundy suit, Bickell looks fit. He looks like he could play tomorrow. He’d love to do just that but after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis this fall, Bickell is playing the waiting game. Still, the former Blackhawks forward is feeling better and, while it may take time, he’s still determined to play again.

Bickell was at Friday’s game when his former team took on his current one, the Carolina Hurricanes. He’s undergoing treatment for his illness and has been working out. He doesn’t have a timetable on when he’ll return but he likes the progress he’s making.

“[I’m] better than I was a couple months ago. But the procedures are going well,” Bickell said during the first intermission on Friday. “I just got my first one done a couple weeks ago. Feel better, feel more normal than I did a couple months ago. It’s going to take steps. It’s not a sprint, it’s going to be a marathon, and it’s going to take some time to get things right, ideally, to get me back on the ice. That’s what I’m hoping for.”

Bickell dealt with an ocular issue – it was first believed to be vertigo – during the 2015 Stanley Cup run. Even entering the following season Bickell was struggling. Whether or not that was the start of MS is uncertain.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“I know the side effects I had, weeks going into the known [illness]. It got worse and things weren’t right. I don’t know if it was years, weeks or days,” Bickell said. “Something wasn’t right. To find out was a relief and a disappointment at the same time but that’s the past. It was a few months ago and now we’re moving on.”

So now Bickell goes through a monthly procedure. He just finished his first a few weeks ago.

“So the drug that I’ll be taking to help me be normal, I have to get it once a month. [I] take a day off and go hang out in the room and getting an IV to make me feel right. It’s what I need to do,” Bickell said. “From the couple weeks I got [first] it, I feel better, and hopefully this process keeps moving forward to get me back on the ice. My mindset is to get back on the ice and I think I can do that. And hopefully I don’t get too bad out of shape, it won’t take that long.”

Bickell saw some of the Blackhawks scratches who skated on Friday morning and hoped to see a few other teammates after the game. It’s been a tough few months for the forward but his optimistic attitude has helped. Bickell wants to be on the ice again. With continued progress, he very well could be some day.

“I’m sure you guys know, I’m pretty positive, pretty happy guy. Nothing’s going to slow me down,” Bickell said. “Getting diagnosed with MS was a speed bump in my happiness but I’ve moved on and [I’m] moving forward. Keep a smile on my face and stay positive. It’ll help me through this.”

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Draft.

They discuss the pair of puck-carrying defensemen that the Blackhawks selected on Friday, Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin. When can we expect to see these first-round picks play in the NHL?

Boyle also goes 1-on-1 with Boqvist and Beaudin. The guys spoke with Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville on Friday.

The guys also share their biggest takeaways from those interviews, which includes your daily Corey Crawford update and Quenneville appeared excited that the team has plenty of cap space to spend in free agency.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Blackhawks add another defenseman to pipeline, draft Nicolas Beaudin at No. 27

Blackhawks add another defenseman to pipeline, draft Nicolas Beaudin at No. 27

DALLAS — Despite taking Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, the Blackhawks took a second defenseman at No. 27 with the selection of Nicolas Beaudin.

Beaudin is a 5-foot-11, 172-pound defenseman who prides himself on playing strong at both ends of the ice and tries modeling his game after Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins.

"I’m a two-way defenseman," Beaudin said. "I can provide offense, too. I’ve got a great IQ. I think in my zone I’m just getting better and better."

Beaudin is also a left-handed shot, which is something the Blackhawks could use more of in the organization along the blue line when it comes to impact-type players.

"Nicolas is a very efficient defender," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "He’s got a really nice skill set. He makes the game look pretty easy. He’s a smooth player, not a lot of panic to his game. He’s a good skater so when he has to turn back and get to the puck he can get there first. Usually he just gets his setup and makes the simple play.

"You watch him play and he makes it look really easy. He’s not a guy that’s getting run over a lot. He’s not a real big player, but he uses his brain really well and he had over a point a game, too. He’s got a good feel for making plays and scoring points."

The 18-year-old registered 69 points (12 goals, 57 assists) in 68 games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL, and added three goals and eight assists in 10 postseason contests.

Beaudin is the third defenseman the Blackhawks have taken in the first round the last two years, with Henri Jokiharju and Boqvist being the other two.

"It’s a winning culture in Chicago," Beaudin said. "They won a lot. I know they’ve got some young guys coming in. For sure in the next few years I want to earn my place and I want to try to learn a lot from a guy like Duncan Keith."