Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell, who has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, on Friday tweeted his appreciation for the support he's received since the news was made public.
"It's all new [to me and] my family but seeing all the support from [you] guys makes it easier for us," Bickell wrote.
Bickell, 30, was acquired by the Hurricanes in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks on June 15. He has one goal in seven games this season and hopes to play again.
"Since the 2015 playoffs, I've been struggling to understand what was going on with my body," Bickell said Friday in a statement released by the Hurricanes. "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."
Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said Bickell, who met with Carolina officials and teammates on Saturday, would be missed on the ice and in the locker room.
"Great guy, high character guy," Peters said prior to the game against the Washington Capitals. "Everyone enjoys being around [Bickell]. He has a great personality, full of life. He's a guy's guy. He's a real good guy."
Bickell won the Stanley Cup three times with the Blackhawks (2010, 2013, 2015) playing for coach Joel Quenneville.
"Tough news today on [Bickell]," Quenneville said Friday. "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."
Former Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in September 2012. He played five games in 2012-13 and 29 the following season then retired after the 2014-15 season.