Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and will be out indefinitely.
"Since the 2015 playoffs, I've been struggling to understand what was going on with my body," Bickell said in a statement released Friday. "Again during the past few weeks, it felt like something wasn't right. 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, 30, has one goal in seven games this season. He was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks on June 15 and won the Stanley Cup three times with Chicago (2010, 2013, 2015).
Video: The crew discusses Bryan Bickell's health
"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 general manager Ron Francis said. "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."
Bickell was selected by Chicago with the No. 41 pick in the 2004 NHL Draft. He has 66 goals and 70 assists in 391 regular-season games.
"Our thoughts are with Bryan, his family and the Carolina Hurricanes during this challenging time," Blackhawks president and CEO John McDonough said. "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."
The Hurricanes did not play Friday. The Blackhawks lost to the Washington Capitals 3-2 in overtime.
"It's pretty shocking," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "What can you say? I think everyone in this room, in this organization, as close as we all are to [Bickell], our hearts go out to him and wish him the best health possible. Hopefully he can hang in there and find ways to stay strong despite his condition. Obviously it's kind of crazy for him. He probably has a lot of people reaching out to him. I'm sure all the guys in this locker room that know him really well will reach out and send him a message and offer their support. It's pretty shocking, but we're all thinking about him right now."
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said, "Tough news today on [Bickell]. He's a special guy. It's tough to hear something like that. We're thinking about him and our thoughts and prayers are with him. He has a tough road ahead of him, but we're thinking of [Bickell] as he was special for us, and instrumental in us having a lot of success here. We wish him well."