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 release 2018-19 schedule


Blackhawks release 2018-19 schedule

Uncap those markers and start circling your calendars, Blackhawks fans. The 2018-19 season is officially out.

The Blackhawks will kick off their 91st campaign in franchise history with a road contest against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. The home opener is set for Oct. 7, with an Original Six matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at 6 p.m.

The Blackhawks have 14 back-to-back games, and the longest road trip of the season is three, which takes place five times over the course of the season; the longest homestand is four games, from Dec. 12-18.

The biggest highlight of the season will be the Original Six Winter Classic Showdown between the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1 at Notre Dame Stadium. It will be the sixth outdoor appearance for Chicago, and fourth in the Winter Classic.

The Blackhawks will also square off with the defending champion Washington Capitals on Nov. 21 at 6 p.m., and welcome them to Chicago on Jan. 20, set for NBC's Game of the Week at 11:30 a.m.

Here's a look at the full schedule:

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: 'We expect Corey to be back'

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: 'We expect Corey to be back'

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said that the team expects goalie Corey Crawford to be back next season around training camp. Bowman also mentioned that Crawford might speak about his status himself during the Blackhawks Convention.

“What I said at the end of the year was still the case now, which is we expect Corey to be back,” Bowman said in a Thursday afternoon conference call. “We don’t have any reason to think that’s not going to happen.”

According to Bowman, Blackhawks players, including Crawford, already have their eyes set on next season.

“At this point in the summer, all the players are preparing for next season,” Bowman said. “Corey’s in that same preparation mode.”

Crawford is nursing what has been labeled an upper-body injury by the team. The two-time Stanley Cup winner was put on the shelf for the rest of the season back in late December, and he has not seen the ice since he skated in a February practice.

“Nothing has changed,” Bowman said. “We expect him to be back and ready to go in training camp.”

The Blackhawks have chosen to keep any groundbreaking news with Crawford under wraps, which the organization has done with other player injuries in the past. Bowman spoke about his vagueness in this situation.

“We’ve never gone into specifics about injuries,” Bowman said. “I realize this probably gets more attention because he’s our starting goalie and he won the Stanley Cup.”

Fans will have to take a wait-and-see approach, because it is unlikely that there will be a significant update regarding Crawford’s health before the season gets closer to its start.

Last season, Crawford only appeared in 28 games, posting a record of 16-9 with 782 saves before going down for the rest of the year.