FOX SPORTS - The Carolina Hurricanes dropped some tough news on Friday when they announced that veteran forward Bryan Bickell has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
The 30-year-old Bickell, who is in his first season with the Hurricanes after spending nine years (and winning three Stanley Cups) in the Chicago Blackhawks organization, will take some time away from the game as he evaluates his future.
"First and foremost, the most important thing is for Bryan to take care of himself and our thoughts are with him and his family," Hurricanes EVP and GM Ron Francis said in a statement. "He will need to take some time to rest in the immediate future, and we will support him as he takes the necessary steps for his health. We ask that his privacy be respected during the process."
The diagnosis comes after Bickell sought help for persistent health issues, but he remains optimistic in the face of this diagnosis.
"Since the 2015 playoffs, I've been struggling to understand what was going on with my body. Again during the past few weeks, it felt like something wasn't right," said Bickell. "Obviously this is a bit of shock for my family and me, but I am hopeful I will be able to return to the ice and continue playing the game that I love."
Chicago Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough released the following statement on Bickell's diagnosis.
“Our thoughts are with Bryan, his family and the Carolina Hurricanes during this challenging time. He has built so many lasting relationships in Chicago both inside and outside of the Blackhawks organization based on his play on the ice and character off of it. Together, we will keep him in our thoughts during his fight against the disease.”
Bickell was a member Chicago's Stanley Cup-winning teams in 2010, 2013 and 2015. He 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.