Bryan Bickell practiced Tuesday with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs for the first time since his demotion Monday.
“It was nice to get back on the ice and get back playing hockey,” Bickell told the media in Rockford. “Being down here is going to be the next step in that speed bump in my career right now. Work down here and good things will happen.”
Not a lot of good things were happening for Bickell with the Blackhawks. Coach Joel Quenneville tried Bickell all over the lineup but he was scoreless in seven games before Monday, when Marko Dano was brought up in a corresponding move.
Bickell was a hero of the 2013 championship team and earned a four-year, $16 million deal that summer but struggled to live up to the contract. Bickell was placed on waivers last month as a wakeup call and cleared, but didn’t take advantage of his second chance.
Though it’s not where he wanted it, at least Bickell will get regular playing time to straighten out his game and work to return to the Hawks.
“It’s tough up there with the minutes you get every night. You never know if you’re in or out of the lineup,” Bickell said. “At this point, now I’m down here to get those minutes and contribute. Just playing my game, getting the puck deep, getting to the net, shooting the puck, I think’s the biggest thing. Just getting confidence in myself.”
He didn’t do that consistently enough with the Hawks and now he’s with the IceHogs for the first time since the 2009-10 season, trying to breathe new life into a career that’s stalled. He still believes he can play and contribute in the NHL
“They’re going to give me more opportunities to get more ice and get my confidence back here. At the start of the year where I got put on waivers, I knew eventually this day might come and prepared for it,” Bickell said. “It’s disappointing but at the same time, I just need to get my confidence back, get playing, and get back playing my game and it’ll all work out.”
Quenneville said Michal Rozsival (broken left ankle) could “hopefully” return next week. To get more prepared for coming back, Rozsival skated after practice with a small parachute to create more resistance while he moved.
“It’s not a fun process right now. You’re getting down to the strokes where it’s almost painful out there,” Quenneville said. “Not watching him, but just him.”
As for Duncan Keith (right knee surgery), Quenneville said he’s getting closer to off-ice work and anticipated him being ready in the 4-6 weeks he was expected to be out. The Hawks announced on Oct. 20 that Keith had undergone surgery to repair a meniscal tear in his right knee.
Quenneville ruled Marian Hossa (lower body) out of Wednesday’s game against the Blues.
A report Tuesday said Quenneville is going to be named an assistant Thursday for Team Canada in next summer’s World Cup of Hockey. The head coach is expected to be Toronto’s Mike Babcock, and an assistant with Quenneville will be Boston’s Claude Julien.
“It would be the thrill of a lifetime,” Quenneville said.
Asked if he’s been told anything, a grinning Quenneville said “I’m not talking about it.”