Hurricanes' Bryan Bickell set for NHL return five months after MS diagnosis

AP
AP

Bryan Bickell is set to make his NHL return nearly five months after news came out that he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

The Carolina Hurricanes made it official on Monday by recalling the 31-year-old Bickell from their AHL affiliate in Charlotte. He’d been skating with the club since February and has played 10 games with the Checkers, scoring a goal and assisting on three others.

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Carolina has four games remaining in their regular season beginning with Tuesday’s date at the Minnesota Wild. The Hurricanes aren’t mathematically eliminated from playoff contention in the Eastern Conference, but by the time puck drops at Xcel Energy Center, they could be officially done. Right now, there’s a seven-point difference between where they sit and the final wild card spot, so it’s time to start looking forward to next season.

Bickell, who last played for the Hurricanes on Oct. 30, wasn’t sure when he’d be able to make an NHL comeback, but always spoke using “when,” not “if,” when discussing a return. While he was sidelined, he dove right into his battle and last month Bickell and his wife Amanda announced a new program as part of their foundation that will provide therapy dogs to people battling MS.

Goaltenders Jordan Sigalet and Josh Harding both were able to resume playing after they were diagnosed with MS — Sigalet in 2003 and Harding in 2012. Sigalet was diagnosed during his junior year at Bowling Green. He ended up playing in parts of three AHL seasons in the Boston Bruins organization as well as five games in Austria. His time in the NHL lasted for 43 seconds at the end of a Bruins game in 2006. Harding played 34 games with the Minnesota Wild and four in the AHL in the three seasons after his diagnosis was public.

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Bickell is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Hopefully this is the first step in a prolonged comeback for the veteran forward.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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