Back on October 22nd, I wrote an article questioning what would become of Bryan Bickell as he continued to struggle. The question was answered when the Chicago Blackhawks sent Bickell down to their AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, on November 3rd. Bickell took the demotion in stride, admitting he needed to rediscover his game. In his Rockford press conference that day he stated: “Being down here is the next step in this speed bump in my career right now. Work down here, good things will happen.” He then went on to add “You know, if I believe, I know I can play there. They’ll give me more opportunities to get more ice and get my confidence back here.”
I had my doubts that Bickell could turn things around to justify his four-year $16 Million contract signed in 2013. Well, maybe I spoke a bit too soon. As of this writing, the Left Winger has played in five games for the IceHogs and has compiled 4 goals and 4 assists. Bickell also has been quite disciplined taking only one minor penalty. Lastly, he is a plus 6. If he was say Ryan Hartman, (who also has 4 and 4 but in 13 games played), people would be screaming for the Blackhawks to promote him.
That's points in all five games for @bbicks29 – 4 goals and 4 assists. 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥
— Rockford IceHogs (@goicehogs) November 19, 2015
So now Bickell is creating a new pickle for the club. If he continues to thrive, how can they not recall him? For the most part, the Blackhawks seem set with the top two lines. However, their third and fourth are still a work in progress. While Shaw is starting to get greasy again as evidenced by his goal against Edmonton, he may further thrive being reunited with his buddy Bickell.
Perhaps the Blackhawks are hoping he continues to dominate so he becomes a player another team would take in a trade. Don’t get me wrong, I would be delighted to see Bickell return to the big league club and provide the value he displayed during the 2013 Stanley Cup Run. Heck, I would settle for even half that success. But as I mentioned back in October, his regular season numbers have never supported a $4 Million per year contract extension. Barring an injury with a current Blackhawks forward, Bickell would likely to have continue at his current pace of one point plus per night to warrant another call-up. Fair or not, that is the reality. While I would hate to see him go, it may be best for his confidence. I do not wish ill-will towards him, and his grinder game fits well with many Eastern Conference teams.
My biggest fear is he plays his way into a trade with say Montreal or even Tampa, and the Blackhawks face him in the Final. That my friends would be quite the pickle should he score another critical goal against the team that once fed him.
What do you think ‘Hawks fans? Does Bickell deserve another shot if his play continues to be kosher?
Rick is fortunate to live off the I-90 hockey corridor where both his beloved Chicago Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs (aka Baby Hawks) call home. Hockey has been in his blood since the early 1970’s when he saw his first Blackhawks game at the “Old Barn”. His favorite player is Keith Magnuson followed closely by Bobby Hull (old school!). When not covering the greatest sport, he enjoys watching live music and has even been known to join his beloved bands on stage for a song or two. Follow Rick on Twitter via @HawksStrength