Bryan Bickell #29 of the Chicago Blackhawks celebrates after defeating the Boston Bruins in Game Five of the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final at United Center on June 22, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Boston Bruins 3-1.
(June 21, 2013 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Under Pressure: Bryan Bickell


“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.

For the Chicago Blackhawks we picked… forward Bryan Bickell.

Let’s be honest. Chicago just won the Stanley Cup for the second time in four seasons. Expectations are high, but as a team, they could fall short this season and there wouldn’t be a lot of anger or calls for change.

There are players though that are out to prove that they can replicate their personal success from last season and then there are players that will be asked to do far more in 2013-14. Bickell fits into both categories.

Bickell has averaged just 12:39 minutes per game over the course of his career and he didn’t get much more playing time than that during the 2013 regular season, but he had a solid campaign and then took things a step further in the playoffs. He finished second on the Blackhawks and fifth in the league with 17 points in 23 postseason contests.

The timing couldn’t have been better for him because he was set to become an unrestricted free agent, but Chicago couldn’t let their playoff hero go so they inked him to a four-year, $16 million deal. That’s quite a step up from his previous three-year agreement that paid him an average of $541,667 annually.

Still, with all that money comes more responsibilities. Or, as Patrick Kane put it…

“[Bickell is] one of our key parts of our lineup now. He’s got to know that going into this season and realize he’s not counted on being a third-line player or a checking-line guy.

“He’s got to do what he did in the playoffs. That’s what’s expected from him now.”

And Bickell seems to understand that.

“I need to have that same mind-set I had in the playoffs all year,” Bickell told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I felt I was focused and really learned what I needed to do to be the player I want to be.”

It’s a lot to ask of Bickell, who had just 67 points in 172 NHL games before the 2013 campaign, but the Blackhawks are taking a significant chance. If he regresses and performs as a third liner, then his $4 million cap hit will look pretty bad on a team that’s trying to make the most of their glory years.

The Blackhawks didn’t want to lose significant pieces of their team like they did 2010. Now Bickell needs to show that they were right to count him among the players that they couldn’t part with.

For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.

Kassian sent to hospital after being involved in car accident

Scott Darling, Zack Kassian

Montreal Canadiens winger Zack Kassian was involved in a car accident early Sunday morning.

According to the Montreal Gazette, Kassian was a passenger in the vehicle that crashed into a tree.

The SUV was being driven by a 20-year-old female at the time of the accident.

Montreal police confirmed that speed didn’t play a factor in the collision, but alcohol may have.

The Canadiens have since confirmed the incident took place and have also mentioned that Kassian was taken to hospital.

A club official described his injuries as being “minor”.

“(Kassian) was all bloodied up and stuff. He was in a daze,” said Steve Petrenko, a resident of the street on which the accident took place. “He had a hard time walking, and he almost took a fall.”

This story will be updated when more information is made available.

Habs and Fleischmann agree on one-year deal

Tomas Fleischmann,
1 Comment

The Montreal Canadiens announced that they have signed Tomas Fleischmann to a one-year contract.

According to TVA Sports, the deal is worth $750,000.

The 31-year-old was invited to camp on a professional tryout, but his preseason performance showed that he could still contribute at the NHL level.

Fleischmann found instant chemistry with new linemates David Desharnais and Dale Weise, and it looks like the trio will open the regular season as Montreal’s third line.

The veteran winger started  last season with Florida, but was traded to Anaheim on Feb. 28. He had a hard time cracking the Duck’s lineup and was a healthy scratch in most of their playoff games last spring.

Fleischmann scored eight goals and 27 points in 66 games last season.