As his Chicago Blackhawks teammates prepared to fly to Vancouver on Monday, Bryan Bickell was undergoing surgery to his wrist, in what was a disappointingly premature end to the NHL post-season for the Orono native.
On Monday evening, various Chicago news outlets reported that Bickell would not be playing in Tuesday’s Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarter-finals against the Canucks. Bickell’s injury occurred at the Rogers Centre in Game 2 of the series, when he was cut by a skate blade and had to leave the ice, holding his wrist. According to the Vancouver Sun, it was Canuck Sami Salo’s skate that caused the accidental cut.
Following the April 15th injury, Bickell sat out the next game. With the Hawks down 0-3 in the series, the 25-year old left-winger returned to the lineup for Game 4 on April 19th, opening up the scoring for Chicago with a shot past Roberto Luongo. The Hawks took the next three games against Vancouver, to tie the series and force a Game 7. That matchup – on the evening of April 26th – ended with the Canucks beating the Hawks 2-1, ending the playoff run for the rest of Bickell’s teammates.
According to a statement by Blackhawks head team doctor Michael Terry, Bickell underwent surgery Monday with the team’s hand surgeon, Dr. Weidrich, to repair a tendon lacerated during Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Surgery was anticipated after the injury, but Bickell was allowed to keep playing up until the last moment that it was still safe to do so.
“Bryan wanted to play as long as possible before time ran out to complete the procedure appropriately,” said Terry. “We anticipate a full recovery in approximately six-to-eight weeks.”
Bickell left the series on a high note, contributing Chicago’s first goal of Game 6 to tie things up in the first period. His line, including forward Michael Frolik and defenseman Ben Smith, scored the three regulation goals of the Hawks’ 4-3 overtime win at the United Centre. And Bickell’s effort – a wrist shot, no less, past Cory Schneider – was ranked the second best goal of the week in the NHL.com’s Top 10 Goals video feature. The goal was Bickell’s fourth point of the playoffs. With 2 goals and 2 assists in five games, he managed a point in every post-season game he played except game 1.
At 6’ 4” and 223 lbs., Bickell was a physical force against the Canucks. His hit on defenseman Kevin Bieksa in the overtime period of Game 6 was one of a number of missed calls in the series that led Vancouver’s general manager Mike Gillis to complain on Monday of bad officiating. Others considered Bickell’s hit to be payback for a hit Raffi Torres of the Canucks delivered in Game 3 to Chicago’s Brent Seabrook.
This season was Bickell’s first full NHL campaign, and in 78 regular-season games, he ranked 9th among NHL rookies for goals (a career best with 17), and 12th for points (with 37). He finished with 178 hits, second among club forwards.
He recorded career highs in almost every statistical category, according to NHL.com. He posted four multi-point games, each consisting of one goal and one assist; fired a career-high seven shots on goal in one game; logged a career-high of 19:29 of ice time in a game; and compiled a career-best six-game point streak (4 goals, 3 assists).