Bryan Bickell and his wife Amanda were the guests of honor at the 2017 Walk MS at PNC Arena on Saturday morning. Before the walk started, the Hurricanes forward, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November and returned to the NHL this past week, gave the crowd a pep talk before the walk started.
Bryan Bickell speaking to the crowd at the MS Walk pic.twitter.com/Uji0UBJ0RO— Mark Armstrong (@ArmstrongABC11) April 8, 2017
But Bickell had no idea what was coming next.
Bickell surprised by all his teammates in "Bickell Brave" shirts pic.twitter.com/UM3iXfhPnQ— Mark Armstrong (@ArmstrongABC11) April 8, 2017
Bill Peters, in tears, hugging Bickell. Emotional moment pic.twitter.com/8JUFFkiFm4— Mark Armstrong (@ArmstrongABC11) April 8, 2017
If you'd like to make a donation on Bickell’s behalf, here's the fundraising site to do so. Canes Country is also formulating a fundraiser for the MS Society - stay tuned on Monday for details!
The Canes’ home finale is tonight against the Blues at 7:00.
Update: After this morning’s Walk MS event, Bickell told Kurt Dusterberg of NHL.com that he plans to retire at the end of the season. He will play his final two games tonight against the Blues and on Sunday in Philadelphia.
Bickell had hinted at this after Thursday's game against the Islanders when he said that he planned to discuss his future with his teammates in the coming days. As it turns out, he told them that night. Bickell acknowledged that continuing to play hockey simply wasn't feasible anymore after his diagnosis.
From where I was at my peak to where I am now, there's a difference in my game. I don't think I will ever get back to that point with the circumstances. For the last couple months, from where I was mentally and physically to where I am now, it's a big change. I'm just happy to finish up here and move on.
Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis said that Bickell will be in the starting lineup for each of the Canes’ final two contests, and he will also be back on a power play unit tonight and tomorrow.
Bickell’s teammates voted him the winner of this season’s Steve Chiasson Award, announced this afternoon. The press release for the award is below.
BICKELL SELECTED AS CHIASSON AWARD WINNER
Hurricanes team award recognizes determination and dedication
The Carolina Hurricanes today announced that forward Bryan Bickell has been selected by his teammates as the winner of the 2016-17 Steve Chiasson Award. The Steve Chiasson Award is given annually to the Hurricanes player that best exemplifies determination and dedication while proving to be an inspiration to his teammates through his performance and approach to the game.
Bickell, 31, began the 2016-17 campaign with Carolina and notched one goal in seven games before being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in early November. He returned to game action with the Hurricanes’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers, in late February, and rejoined the Hurricanes on April 4 in Minnesota. The Bowmanville, Ont., native was acquired by Carolina on June 15, 2016, from Chicago, where he was a member the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup-winning teams in 2010, 2013 and 2015. Bickell (6’4”, 223 lbs.) was drafted by Chicago in the second round, 41st overall, in the 2004 NHL Draft, and has scored 66 goals and earned 70 assists in 391 NHL career regular-season games with the Blackhawks and Hurricanes.