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Bryan Bickell assigned to AHL by Hurricanes

Expected to play Saturday for first time since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis @NHLdotcom

Forward Bryan Bickell was assigned by the Carolina Hurricanes to Charlotte of the American Hockey League after clearing waivers.

Bickell, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis on Nov. 11, is expected to be in the lineup for the Checkers against Cleveland on Saturday. It will be his first game since he played for Carolina against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 30.

The 30-year-old had been practicing with the Hurricanes for more than a month. He has one goal in seven games for Carolina this season.

"It's been a long journey, but the road is getting shorter, so that's a positive thing for me to help out this team," Bickell told Postmedia Network on Thursday.

"Finding out the news and then not knowing if you're even going to play hockey again; that first month was kind of hard. But to move on, as a family and as a player, has been tough, but it's been well-deserved when you get this close to coming back in."

Bickell has 136 points (66 goals, 70 assists) in 391 regular-season games during 10 seasons with the Hurricanes and Chicago Blackhawks. He helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015 and was traded to Carolina on June 15, 2016.

"He's done everything he possibly can to get himself ready and get back at it, so we'll see where it leads," Carolina coach Bill Peters told the Hurricanes website Thursday. "It's an unreal source of inspiration, and his attitude has been fantastic through this whole thing. I give him nothing but credit there."

General manager Ron Francis said he is hopeful Bickell can return to the Hurricanes.

"I think it would be incredible," he told Postmedia. "He's been an inspiration for our guys. He's come here and practiced as hard as you can practice each and every day while dealing with his issues and his treatment. His attitude has been 100 percent positive. Not just about the game, just his outlook on life in general.

"He's a great inspiration. This is a big opportunity for him to go down, get in some games and work on his timing. We're hoping he can make it back up here."

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