Hearing news that Bryan Bickell will retire, Joel Quenneville calls former Blackhawks forward a 'special guy'

Hearing news that Bryan Bickell will retire, Joel Quenneville calls former Blackhawks forward a 'special guy'

LOS ANGELES – Corey Crawford was as disappointed to hear the news as anyone, given how long he and Bryan Bickell go back. His former teammate, with whom he played since their minor-league days, will retire at the end of this season.

"I've known him my whole pro career," Crawford said of Bickell. "It's pretty shocking to hear that stuff when you first got the news. And it was pretty emotional watching that interview, too. Those two interviews. I talked to him and it's tough to hear him say that. But I think his family's the most important thing right now. And his health."

The news wasn't surprising but it was nevertheless tough to see. Bickell, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis earlier this season, announced on Saturday that he'll retire after the Carolina Hurricanes' final regular-season game. Bickell's time with the Blackhawks had plenty of great moments, as he was here for three Stanley Cups. But to see the 31-year-old having to quit now was still disappointing.

"Great teammate great friend. One of those guys who always kept the boys loose. He never took himself too seriously, always about the team and just doing whatever he could for the team. he went through some tough moments and later on, when he was assuming lesser roles and playing a little time in the minors, so he's been through a lot. I've got a lot of respect for him as a person, as a player," Jonathan Toews said. "Obviously our careers come to an end at some point but for him, it's unfortunate that it was cut short. But it sounds like he's making the right decision. He's looking out for himself, his health and his family. It can't be an easy decision so a lot of respect for him and what he's been through these last couple of years."

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Bickell did have a tough final season with the Blackhawks, a good deal of which he spent with the Rockford IceHogs. Ryan Hartman said Bickell approached the situation well and was a great example for the younger players.

"He came in and brought a tremendous amount of leadership and the will to win, the drive. He's battled through some circumstances, as everyone knows. I'm glad he was able to make it back for a few [games,]" Hartman said of Bickell returning for the Hurricanes' final three regular-season contests. "It's tough to see a guy like that retire but I'm happy for what he accomplished. Great guy."

Bickell will always be a part of Blackhawks history. His courage and fight against multiple sclerosis has garnered great attention and admiration throughout the league. It's a shame Bickell's career will be cut short but his impact on it will always be felt.

"You like the guy. He's well-liked by his teammates and he brought an element to our team that was very useful and I think his physicality in series and early in games, in the playoffs, and early in series, he could set the tone," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Who knows when [the illness] first came upon with him. I thought he did great job this year doing everything he could to get back and play. And commend Carolina giving him a chance to do what he had to do to get back to play again. It's a tough story, but at the same time, special guy."

Blackhawks not going to 'freak out' about 0-2-1 start

USA Today

Blackhawks not going to 'freak out' about 0-2-1 start

The Blackhawks wanted to get off to a strong start this season because they know how hard it is to climb out of a hole in the Central Division. Last season was proof of that.

Well, they've picked up only one out of a possible six points through three games and are one of three teams still searching for their first victory of the season. But they're not going into panic mode just yet.

"We know there's things we have to improve upon," Jonathan Toews said. "Jeremy [Colliton] always talks about doing the right thing and over time eventually you're going to get results. I don't know if we can say we're doing things the right things that we want to and we're playing complete games right now, so even having said that, midway through the San Jose game and even against Winnipeg we were in a position to take control of the game going into the third period and we let teams back in. So I think there's a lot of ways we can play better.

"But having said that we're in those games and giving ourselves a chance to win. Obviously that's not good enough, but we're not going to freak out and say, 'we've got to start winning games.' Of course that's the goal, we wanted to get two points the other night."

The quest to pick up their first two points of the season doesn't get any easier for the Blackhawks on Monday night. The Edmonton Oilers are coming to town with a 5-0-0 record, and they're clicking on all cylinders. They have the second-best power play unit (41.2 percent), second-best penalty kill percentage (94.1), the NHL's leading point-getter in Connor McDavid (12) and leading goal scorer in James Neal (seven).

The Blackhawks know at some point they have to start stringing together some wins, but they're not living and dying by the standings right now because everything looks out of proportion. They're focused on the process and putting together a full 60-minute effort.

"It's always magnified at the start of the year," Colliton said. "Your special teams, you got [teams] with 100 percent PK, you got [teams] with 40 percent power play, and all the little things they look way bigger than they are. Would be nice for us to get a win, get some positive feelings but any three-game window among the 82, it's not going to be looked upon as closely as this one.

"So again, we've just got to focus on playing hard, playing the game the right way, do the right thing time and time again and we'll get the results." 

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Corey Crawford to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Oilers

USA Today

Corey Crawford to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Oilers

Corey Crawford will start in goal for the Blackhawks when they take on the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night. He's 0-2-0 with a 4.63 goals-against average and .875 save percentage this season.

In 18 career appearances against the Oilers, Crawford is 9-7-0 with a 2.53 goals-against average, .909 save percentage and one shutout. 

The decision is a little surprising, given how well Lehner performed on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets and what his career numbers are against the Oilers. In eight starts vs. Edmonton, Lehner is 5-1-2 with a 1.86 goals-against average, .943 save percentage and one shutout.

"We're going to continue to ... both guys are going to get in," coach Jeremy Colliton said after Monday's morning skate. "They're both going to play. I'm not going to give you the road map, but today it's Crawford and we'll go from there."

The Blackhawks are seeking their first win of the season (0-2-1) against an Oilers team that's 5-0-0.

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