Blackhawks News

Chicago Blackhawks: Is Bryan Bickell’s Chicago Career Over?

By Tim Lively

Jun 18, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing

Bryan Bickell

(29) acknowledges the crowd during the 2015 Stanley Cup championship parade and rally at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to the three Stanley Cup Championships won by our beloved Chicago Blackhawks in the past six years, 2013 has to be my favorite. I mean come ‘on you can’t beat two goals in 17 seconds, right? There isn’t a ‘Hawks fan around that still doesn’t get chills watching the last two minutes of that game.

However, this Blackhawks’ highlight reel is not without its bittersweetness. While Dave Bolland, scorer of 2013 Stanley Cup-winning goal, was understandably traded while his stock was high and the salary cap was low, now it looks like the other major component of 17 Seconds, Bryan Bickell, may have played his last game for a team whose history he has become an integral part.

Ironically, the game-tieing goal Bicks scored in Game 6 in the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals may have been his undoing. Bickell was never much of a goal-scorer for the ‘Hawks until the 2013 post season, where apparently he took a page out of Dustin Byfuglien’s 2010 book, and used his 6’ 4” 233 lbs. frame to clog up the opponent’s crease and tip in rebounds and centering passes. The result was Bickell amassing an unprecedented 17 points during the 2013 playoffs. The Blackhawks’ brass were quick to believe Bickell would be able to reproduce such results, and signed him to a four year contract worth $16 million. This contract may have increased Bick’s wallet, but it also sealed his fate.

While Bickell’s 2013-2014 campaign was arguably on par with his paycheck, the past two years have been quite a different story. Bickell’s contributions were glaringly absent in the 2015 postseason, earning him a healthy scratch for the Stanley Cup-winning game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

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It’s become clear the expectations were too high for Bicks from a scoring standpoint, but lucky for him, he had his size to fall back on. However, after throwing his weight around to compensate for his score sheet deficiencies, Bickell was afflicted with symptoms of vertigo, so the Blackhawks placed him on waivers and then sent him down to the Rockford Icehogs at the beginning of November after he went unclaimed.

Initially, I suspected this move was temporary in order to give some of the young ‘Hawks’ prospects a chance to show their stuff at the beginning of the season. Bicks would surely be recalled when the ‘Hawks took on more bruising teams where his size would make him a greater asset. Yet, the fact the Bickell remained in Rockford when the ‘Hawks played the Los Angeles Kings and the St. Louis Blues last week, two notoriously physical teams, his saving grace appears to have become irrelevant.

Now the question is whether the Blackhawks will ever recall Bickell from his Rockford purgatory. It’s hard to imagine keeping a $4 million-a-year player languishing with the IceHogs is a tolerable situation for the ‘Hawks, but considering their less-than-established blue line, and the offensive production from the likes of Tanner Kero and Marko Dano, keepings Bicks off the starting roster may be a bullet the Blackhawks’ brass are willing to bite for the foreseeable future.

If this proves to be the case, Bickell looks primed finish his career in same vein as Cristobal Huet: as a Blackhawk that was unable to live up to the franchise’s expectations and the lucrative paycheck they offered. This would certainly be a sad fate for a player that helped the ‘Hawks hoist the Stanley Cup in 2013, but it’s also demonstrative that the Blackhawks are not a team that rests on its laurels, and players that do so will not be a part of the organization. Here’s hoping Bryan Bickell can earn back his roster spot, but it looks like we’ve seen the last of #29.