Bryan Bickell knows the thrill of celebrating a Stanley Cup championship. He’s had a hand in three of them with the Blackhawks…the most recent only four and a half months ago.
Tuesday morning he was a long way away from that moment, back on the BMO Harris Bank Center ice practicing with the IceHogs.
“He’s an easy-going guy personality-wise,” says IceHogs coach Ted Dent. “I think inside he might be hurting a little bit. That might take some time to get over, but he was in good spirits today.”
That did seem to be the case. Bickell cracked a lot of smiles, and he seemed to be having a good time. He knew a return to the IceHogs was a possibility. His drop-off in production over the last year led to the Blackhawks attempting unsuccessfully to trade him. Then they put him on waivers right before the season.
“I prepared for it, but you know it’s disappointing, but at the same time I just have to get my confidence back,” says Bickell. “Being down here is going to be the next step in that speed bump in my career right now.
Some of the other IceHogs like Jeremy Morin and Jake Dowell know what it’s like dealing with the disappointment of winding up back in the AHL after spending significant time in the NHL.
“It’s tough but at this point in your career you just deal with it,” says Dowell. “It’s your job to play well and try to get yourself back up there. Bryan’s handling it well.”
“It’s just a mindset to come down, have a good attitude and do whatever you can to get back up there,” says Morin.
If anyone can help Bickell get back on track it’s Dent.
“We go way back,” says Dent. “We started the same year in the organization. We were talking about that this morning.”
“He knows my game when it’s on. He knows when to give me a slap on the wrist to get me going,” says Bickell.
Bickell has played in 366 NHL games in his career with 65 goals, 68 assists and 133 points. In 75 playoff games he has scored 20 goals with 19 assists and 39 points.
His first game back with the IceHogs will be Friday night when the team plays at Grand Rapids.