Bryan Bickell’s nightmarish campaign hit a low on Sunday, as he was dropped from the lineup in a 3-1 loss to Winnipeg and replaced by defenseman Michael Kostka — who played his first NHL game at forward.
“Coach’s decision,” Joel Quenneville said of Bickell’s scratch, per ESPN Chicago. “We need a lot more. We’re looking for more.”
Bickell, who signed a four-year, $16 million extension after his stellar Stanley Cup run, has struggled mightily under increased expectations. Missing 14 games with a knee injury hasn’t helped things but, even when healthy, Bickell has yet to find the form that saw him score nine goals and 17 points in 23 games last postseason, emerging as a key power forward en route to Chicago’s second Cup in four years.
The 27-year-old was minus-6 in 11 games prior to the Winnipeg contest, scoring just one goal. Quenneville had trimmed his minutes significantly, holding Bickell under 10 in each of Chicago’s last six games before finally dropping him in favor of Kostka on Sunday.