Blackhawks

Emotional Bryan Bickell retires with Blackhawks: 'I didn't want it any other way'

Emotional Bryan Bickell retires with Blackhawks: 'I didn't want it any other way'

Bryan Bickell got the call from the Blackhawks not long after he played his final game against the Philadelphia Flyers, a call offering him the opportunity to retire with the team with which he won three Stanley Cups.

“I didn’t want it any other way,” Bickell said.

Bickell’s retirement talk on Wednesday was reminiscent of so many of the media interviews he gave: sometimes funny, sometimes emotional and completely honest. The former Blackhawks forward, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis nearly a year ago, fought back tears as he talked of his time with the team, ending everything here and his health — which is improving.

“Every day, every month is getting better,” Bickell said. “There are good days and bad days but there’s more good than bad. Things are going the right way. The treatments and technology they come out with every month, every year, it’s outstanding. Hopefully one day we find a cure and I hope we find help to do that.”

Bickell will keep being active in the fight against MS — “I want to tell my story, what I went through, just inspire other people to get diagnosed and the experience with their families.” As for hockey, maybe he’ll get involved with that again in the future.

“I want to get back into hockey,” he said. “I have two young girls, 3 and 1, and watching them grow is the first thing I want to do and see where it goes from there. Work with kids and things like that would be a goal for me and I’m looking forward to it.”

Bickell’s playing career ended way too prematurely. It ended as well as it could have, with Bickell fighting back to play in the Carolina Hurricanes’ final few regular-season games last spring and him scoring a shootout goal — “my shooting percentage is 50 percent, which is nice,” he said to laughs. When the news came down that he would retire with the Blackhawks he was inundated with messages. Bickell gave the Blackhawks his best; his retiring with them was a fitting, “thank you.”

“It was nice to see the respect,” Bickell said. “I know the news came out last night [on my retiring here] and seeing all the texts, the media and just all the respect for me and the team has built in the city, it’s an honor to be part of it. To finish here, it’s awesome.”

Adam Boqvist absorbing as much as he can from Blackhawks veterans in first training camp

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AP

Adam Boqvist absorbing as much as he can from Blackhawks veterans in first training camp

When development camp rolled around in mid-July, all eyes were on No. 8 overall pick Adam Boqvist, who had immediately become Chicago's top prospect.

That hasn't been the case in training camp.

We're one week in and the storylines have been dominated by Corey Crawford's status, Connor Murphy's back injury that could now sideline him up to 12 weeks and what it means for the defense, Henri Jokiharju's chances at making the big club and the new forward lines, most notably Brandon Saad being put with Patrick Kane and Nick Schmaltz.

Why? Because all the attention in September is how the Blackhawks are going to bounce back after missing the postseason for the first time since 2007-08. And also, because Boqvist may still be 2-3 years away from playing in the NHL on a full-time basis.

Still, the Blackhawks very much are monitoring his progression this week and view him as a big part of the future. They got their first glimpse of Boqvist in game action in Tuesday's preseason opener vs. Columbus, which admittedly wasn't his best game —  he was on the ice for six shot attempts for and 16 against at even strength, the worst differential on the team — but the most important part of it was simply getting a feel for the pace and the size of the players he's going up against.

"I was a little nervous when I saw Seth Jones, those types of players, I've looked up to them, so that was a little bit [nerve-wracking]," Boqvist said. "But you're there for one thing, so go out and play your best game.

"I think I did pretty well out there. The game was not the best one, but a preseason game is a preseason game, so I hope I can [make] some steps."

Asked how important it was to actually get thrown into a game rather than a team practice or scrimmage, Boqvist didn't undermine it even though it was only a preseason game.

"It's huge," he said. "It's not like back home in Sweden at the juniors. It was a huge difference. How you can defend on smaller ice and when you should go or not go. I've learned a lot from the older guys here and hope they can help me this season."

From development camp to team practices and scrimmages to preseason games, coach Joel Quenneville is impressed with what he sees early on and had some high praise for the 18-year-old defenseman.

"Good, good," he said. "We liked him. We think that he can make some real special plays. Real good patience and play recognition. High end. Terrific shot. Deceptive as well.

"Watching him in the summer as well, he's got a great level of skill, play recognition, patience with possession of the puck. He's going to learn quickly that you got bigger guys, guys that know how to play and hold onto the puck and how to defend those situations in tight areas and with possession against you, so that's one of the learning curves that he's going through. But overall, he's what you call smooth as [Duncan Keith] says or [Patrick Kane] says."

Boqvist will be playing in Thursday's preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings, and will likely play a larger role in it with the top guys on the blue line staying home. It could also be his last one, with the OHL's London Knights season beginning Friday.

The Blackhawks want to make sure Boqvist is maximizing his experience here while he is around the Duncan Keith's and Brent Seabrook's, before taking everything he learned with him to London ahead of a crucial year of development.

"It's so cool to be around these NHL players," Boqvist said. "I try to enjoy so much here and take all the stuff I can from the guys here, so hope they can help me."

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 9: Memorable Canucks series

Start of the Blackhawks Dynasty, Part 9: Memorable Canucks series

In a 10-part series, we look back at the 10-year anniversary of the 2008-09 season, the start of the Blackhawks dynasty.

After eliminating the Calgary Flames in six games and securing their first playoff series win since 1995-96, the Blackhawks were on to the Western Conference semi-finals, where they would meet the Vancouver Canucks. And what a memorable series this would shape out to be, the start of a terrific rivalry that would develop over the next several years.

The Blackhawks didn't have home-ice advantage this time, but it turns out they didn't need it.

After falling into a 2-1 hole, the Blackhawks evened up the series in Game 4 at the United Center when Andrew Ladd re-directed a Dave Bolland shot in overtime to put the pressure back on the Canucks heading back to Vancouver. It was a pivotal moment in the series, but the turning point may have started late in Game 3.

Although he didn't score until Game 5, Dustin Byfuglien was an absolute wrecking ball and unquestionably got into Roberto Luongo's head with his net-front presence and physicality. 

The Blackhawks locked up Game 5 in Vancouver and returned to Chicago, where they would beat the Canucks 7-5 in Game 6 thanks to a hat-trick by 20-year-old Patrick Kane. It was that night when Kane was coined with the nickname: "Hat-trick Kane."

And of course, who could forget Luongo's postgame press conference when he was moved to tears after accepting blame for the series loss?

Relive the series in the video above.