Chicago Blackhawks recall Bickell from Rockford
When Bryan Bickell got the news that he was being demoted to Rockford on Nov. 2, the big Chicago Blackhawks winger could have gone into a shell from which he may never have returned.
After all, it's not every day that an NHL player making $4.5 million gets sent to the minor leagues.
Instead, Bickell said he "took a big swallow and accepted it."
Sunday, after being recalled from the IceHogs, Bickell made a fairly triumphant return to the Hawks in their 3-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center.
Bickell, who was on the third line with Tanner Kero and Andrew Shaw, provided one of the night's biggest highlights when he delivered a month's worth of frustration on a check to the Jets' 6-foot-4, 260-pound Dustin Byfuglien.
Said Bickell: "I saw him juggling with (the puck) and I was like, 'Well, I'll lean into him a little bit.' He didn't like it too much. Couple guys jumped on and (he) got the (roughing) penalty, which gave a spark to the crowd."
Bickell was credited with 7 hits in just 7:03 of ice time.
"That was awesome," Patrick Kane said of Bickell's hit on Byfuglien, who played for the Hawks from 2005-10. "We all like Big Buff over here, but I think that's something we're missing a little bit from our team game. It kind of set the tone for the game."
Bickell said the toughest part of playing in Rockford was not being able to see his wife and 15-month-old daughter on a regular basis. They live in Chicago, so Bickell would make the 90-minute drive from Rockford to see them on off-days.
The United Center crowd gave Bickell a big ovation when he was shown on the big screen after the hit on Byfuglien. He certainly appreciates the support.
"They believe and I believe and this team believes that I can play here and be a part of this team because (we) need this size in games like this," Bickell said.
To make room for Bickell, the Hawks placed Viktor Tikhonov on waivers, and he was claimed by the Arizona Coyotes, the team that drafted him in the first round in 2008. Tikhonov had been a healthy scratch in 13 of the last 16 games.
Trevor Daley suffered what might be a serious injury when he was run over by Winnipeg's Chris Thorburn in the second period. The stretcher came on the ice, but Daley skated off with help from the team doctor and Duncan Keith.
Coach Joel Quenneville did not have an immediate update on Daley's status.
"It's something you don't want to see," Quenneville said of the stretcher being on the ice. "It occurs rarely, but when it does it hits you in the pit of your stomach. You've got your fingers crossed and you hope for the best.
"The news we got back immediately wasn't the worst and seeing him come off the ice on his own power was certainly better news."
Trevor van Riemsdyk was hit in the right knee by a shot off the stick of Jacob Trouba in the first period.
Van Riemsdyk, who played in just 18 games last season because of injuries, missed a couple of shifts but returned and played 18:29.
"Scared us at first," Joel Quenneville said. "I think he's fine."