Former Blackhawks Star Bryan Bickell Feeling Better in Battle Against MS

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On the day that we caught up with former Chicago Blackhawks star Bryan Bickell, healthcare was the transcendent national story overshadowing all other news. With Bickell individually, the very first question on everybody’s mind is of course, “how’s his health?”

It’s actually that way for all of us, every day of our lives, because the old adage, “if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything” is always true no matter what physical shape you are in.

In the case of Bryan Bickell, “how are you doing?” means a lot more than just your typical small, elevator talk.

bryan bickell

“I’m feeling a lot better now that I’m not playing hockey,” he said at the Sheraton Grand Chicago before taking part in the Go Beyond Challenge, benefitting the ICE (Inner-City Education) program.

“Slowing the heart rate down, slowing the body down and slowing the mind down definitely helps me feel a lot better. From the get-go to a month afterward and then working my way back, I got better.”

Bickell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, and although he fought his way back to playing in the NHL again, once that diagnosis was made, his playing days were inevitably numbered.

bryan bickell

The two time Stanley Cup champion with the Blackhawks closed out his career with the Carolina Hurricanes against the Philadelphia Flyers on April 9th. He scored his first career shoot-out goal in his final National Hockey League game.

“I feel comfortable now,” Bickell said of how’s he feeling in his post hockey playing days.

“I can do a lot of things that, that month, I couldn’t really do. To move on and enjoy and hang out with the kids and do things like this (a fun night of coaching youth hockey players on tiny ice rink installed inside a hotel ballroom), I’m looking forward to it.”

The kids at the event received a huge thrill Thursday night when they had the opportunity to have their photos taken with the Stanley Cup trophy.

Bickell announced his retirement on April 8th, and played his final game on April 9th. What he does next is still to be determined, but for now he’s enjoying a life that doesn’t consist of a regimented schedule essentially dictating his every action.

“I’m not really looking forward to anything other than relaxing, enjoying some time and doing nothing, really. Not waking up and having a schedule, not having to be at practice and work out and do all that,” said the man affectionately known as Bicks.

“I’ll just take a step back and relax.”

He’s has plenty of time to figure out what his next vocation will be. He’s only been retired a month.

In the meantime, Bickell will be consumed with The Bryan & Amanda Bickell Foundation, which rescues abused pit bulls. The non-profit is beginning a new MS-service dog program, aimed to help people suffering from multiple sclerosis.

“We’re opening a new program, we’re going to train dogs to help MS people, obviously my stage was really early, and there are different stages where people need assistance and we’re going to find these dogs training and give them homes with MS people,” said the former left wing.

Audio of the full Bryan Bickell media Q&A is below:

“That’s our next thing and it’s going to be coming up this summer. I know that’s going to be huge because you don’t know how much MS has affected people all around the world, and I know it’s going to open a lot of doors and opportunities to help a lot of people like me.”

Bickell and his family will head back to his native Ontario soon, but for now he’s still in Raleigh (where the Carolina Hurricanes are located), enjoying the summeresque weather.

Bryan Bickell, who appeared alongside former Hawks teammate Daniel Carcillo at the event benefitting under-privileged children, also reflected on the emotional manner in which he said goodbye to the game.

“I’m sure you guys saw the video,” the 31-year-old said referring to his moving retirement announcement interview.

“That’s the day before I talked to (my wife) Amanda and thought, ‘This is it.’ We knew it was going to come. Playing normally is tough. Now playing with what I have, it was tough to [get to] the point where I got back and finished up the way I wanted.”

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington TimesNBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes to WGN CLTV and KOZN

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