Bryan Bickell, a three-time Stanley Cup winner, has turned to former goalie Josh Harding for guidance on how his new diagnosis will impact his life and career. Harding continued to play in the league for two seasons following his own multiple sclerosis diagnosis in 2012.
[NEWS] Bickell diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. DETAILS: https://t.co/3iQM9NZ9oT
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) November 11, 2016
"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," reads the official statement issued by the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes on behalf of player Bryan 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."
Bickell will be taking time away from hockey to determine his course of action after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).
During those 2015 playoffs referenced in the release, Bickell won a Stanley Cup with his former team, the Chicago Blackhawks, his third with them in six seasons. He missed the first two games of the Finals, however, with what was believed to be a bout of vertigo. Dizziness and vertigo can often be early symptoms of MS.
In an interview on November 16 with WGN Radio in Chicago, Bickell described the feeling that led to his diagnosis.
“There was just something going wrong. Everybody knows their own body, and I’ve been playing hockey my whole life. I just had some side effects on the ice where my one arm or my one leg was off and it wasn’t working like it had been working for the past 20 years, something’s not right," he said.
“It wasn’t so much pain…it was kind of like an out-of-body experience, where my arm or leg was not on my body, but it was still functioning. My signals going from my brain to my arm and leg weren’t reading what I wanted them to read. I didn’t know much about it.”
He is not the first professional hockey player to face an MS diagnosis in recent years. Bickell reached out to Josh Harding, a former goalie for the Minnesota Wild, who fought through the better part of two seasons after finding out his diagnosis in 2012.
"Anything I can obviously do for him to kind of help him along," Harding told ESPN. "I was just telling him that one of the things I felt was very tough was when you're trying new medications but trying to play and practice through those. That was pretty tough for me.”
Bickell says that his goal is to get back in the game, but his health is obviously the first concern. “It’s a little early to tell, I’m just taking it day by day. Hopefully the symptoms will flare down, and I can get back on the ice and exercise and do what I need to do.”