Bryan Bickell is big, strong, wealthy and his National Hockey League career includes three Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks. The Carolina Hurricanes forward decided to exit his professional career, however, after a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, a progressive disease of the central nervous system which is most often diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 40. Bickell is 31.
He exited with typical spirit and in triumph, scoring the winning goal for the Hurricanes Sunday in a shootout against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Bickell was diagnosed in November of last year, and said his decision to quit reflects not just the effects of the disease on his body but his desire to spend time with family and focus on treatment.
The disease can be managed but it is progressive to differing degrees. It is the focus of much medical research.
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The Hurricanes family is close, and Bickell’s teammates are rallying around. His departure after winning a game is heroic in one way, but makes his story poignant. He has been stoic, but candid, and now retires to a lower profile. He deserves the affection and respect of the ’Canes community, and his retirement after a moment of triumph is fitting.