It's not often a game between two teams eliminated from playoff contention can be categorized as a tearjerker, but Sunday night's Carolina Hurricanes' shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers was just that.
Former Blackhawk Bryan Bickell was at the center of it after being tapped by Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters to leadoff the shootout.
The 31-year-old forward was playing in his final NHL game due to multiple sclerosis, a central nervous system disease that he was diagnosed with nearly five months ago. Bickell has been going through monthly treatment but did not think maintaining a hockey career was possible.
Although the 10-year vet has played forward in 394 professional games, no one would mistake him for Patrick Kane during a shootout. In fact, according to hockey reference, Bickell had taken just two before Sunday night -- both were in a Blackhawks jersey and both were missed.
Sunday was different, though, as Bickell raced in and fired a beauty passed Flyers goalie Anthony Stolarz.
Even better, his wife, Amanda, was in the stadium anxiously watching. When the goal went in, she jumped up to celebrate all while holding the couple's kid. The cameras caught her crying after the game as the emotional moment came to a close.
Over the span of his career, Bickell's most memorable moments came in Chicago. From 2006 to 2016, he scored 65 goals with the Hawks and hoisted three Stanley Cups. He tallied 17 points in the 2013 Cup run while posting a plus-11.
After his finale Sunday, the Blackhawks tweeted a congratulations.
One day after finalizing the protocols for Phases 3 and 4, the NHL and NHL Players' Association announced Monday that they have reached a tentative agreement on the Return to Play plan and Collective Bargaining Agreement extension that runs through the 2025-26 season and includes transition rules and a new critical dates calendar.
The tentative agreement is now subject to approval by the NHL's Board of Governors as well as the NHLPA's Executive Board followed by the league-wide NHLPA membership vote, which means the process could take roughly three-to-five days to finalize. Until then, it's only unofficially official.
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The NHL released three key dates in advance of the Return to Play plan and CBA ratification:
- July 13 — Formal training camps open
- July 26 — Teams travel to hub cities
- Aug. 1 — Start of qualifying round
If all goes as planned, Blackhawks training camp will open at Fifth Third Arena exactly one week from Monday before the team heads to Edmonton, where they will take on the Oilers in a five-game play-in series.
On Monday, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews skated with teammates at the Hawks' practice facility for the first time since the NHL paused on March 11.
Teams have been allowed to hold small, voluntary group workouts since June 8 in accordance with the NHL's Return To Play plan. Blackhawks players first started showing up at Fifth Third Arena in Chicago on June 10.
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Patrick Kane and goalie Malcolm Subban, who have been regularly participating in the on and off-ice workouts since they began, were also on the ice with Toews Monday.
Related: Patrick Kane, several Blackhawks return to practice facility
Training camps are scheduled to start on July 13 for teams competing in the NHL's 24-team playoffs held in Edmonton and Toronto, the two hub cities.
The postseason, which has the Hawks facing the Oilers in a best-of-5 play-in series is slated to begin August 1.