Bryan Bickell

Blackhawks convention attendees announced, including captain Jonathan Toews

Blackhawks convention attendees announced, including captain Jonathan Toews

It was a disappointing season to say the least for the Blackhawks this past year, as nine straight playoff appearances came to an end. But the Hawks and Hawks fans alike are beginning their countdown to a new season. And a big moment will come the last weekend of July.

The Blackhawks Twitter page announced all the attendees for their annual Blackhawks Convention; the list includes captain Jonathan Toews.

The convention is being held at the Hilton Chicago July 27-29, and it will not only include Toews but several current players, alumni, coaches and broadcasters.

The weekend will include numerous autograph and photo sessions, Q&A panels, exhibits, interactive games and much more.

Some current players attending are: Patrick Kane, Corey Crawford, Duncan Keith, Alex DeBrincat, Nick Schmaltz and Artem Anisimov.

The alumni list includes: Bryan Bickell, Adam Burish, Brian Campbell, Ben Eager, Tony Esposito, Bobby Hull, Denis Savard and many others.

The legendary voices of the Blackhawks, TV play-by-play man Pat Foley and radio announcer John Wiedeman will also be in attendance.

The season is still a couple months away for the Blackhawks, whose home opener is Oct. 7 against Toronto. They start the campaign with two games on the road, with Ottawa first in line (Oct. 4), then the St. Louis Blues (Oct. 6).

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.”

Bryan Bickell signs one-day contract to retire as a Blackhawk

Bryan Bickell signs one-day contract to retire as a Blackhawk

Bryan Bickell is officially retiring as a member of the Blackhawks.

Bickell signed a one-day contract with the Blackhawks on Wednesday morning to bring an official end to his decade-long NHL career.

“As any professional athlete will tell you, stepping away from the game is extremely difficult especially given my circumstances,” Bickell said in the announcement. “I’m honored to be retiring a Chicago Blackhawk — a team that has given me and my family so many great memories. I appreciate Rocky Wirtz, John McDonough and Stan Bowman for allowing me this opportunity.”

Bickell, a member of the Carolina Hurricanes last season, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last year, announcing the diagnosis in November. He spent much of the 2016-17 campaign on injured reserve as he began receiving treatment. Bickell played four games at the end of the season to wrap up his playing career, scoring a shootout goal in his final game.

Bickell, drafted by the Blackhawks in 2004, was a member of the 2010, 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup teams and played 384 of his 395 career games with the team. He starred during the Blackhawks' 2013 Stanley Cup run, scoring nine goals and recording eight assists in 23 playoff games, most notably scoring the game-tying goal in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins just 17 seconds before Dave Bolland's game-winning, Cup-clinching goal.

“We are thankful to Bryan for his accomplishments on the ice, and we look forward to hearing his voice in raising awareness for multiple sclerosis as he fights the disease,” Bowman said in the announcement.

Watch a live stream of Bickell's press conference starting at 10:30 a.m. right here.