Mired in a disappointing season after signing a four-year, $16 million deal this summer, Chicago forward Bryan Bickell is trying to find some positives… and he’s looking pretty much anywhere for ’em.
“Sometimes when I’m down and I feel I need a little boost, I go on the Internet and check out video clips — it helps,” Bickell said. “I go on YouTube and check out the fans and how much the Blackhawks mean to the city and how they show the passion they have, and it kind of gets you into the game and emotionally fires you up.”
Then there are meetings with James F. Gary, the Hawks’ mental skills coach who is a fixture at home and on the road. Gary has had Bickell listen to motivational tapes, and the two confer at times throughout the season.
“I’ve talked to Dr. Gary a couple of times just for refreshment to know who I am as a person and a player and to realize what I can do,” Bickell said. “It refreshes the things that work and keeps me in the mindset of what I need to do every night.”
Gary is listed on the team website as part of the club’s medical staff and has been around the ‘Hawks for a while, having worked with defensemen Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. Keith, in fact, made a point of thanking Gary after winning his first-ever Norris Trophy in 2010.
Chicago isn’t alone in employing this kind of medical staff. Vancouver used to work with noted sports psychologist Bruno Demichelis, known for his time with European soccer powerhouses A.C. Milan and Chelsea.
As for Bickell, a knee injury did hamper him for part of this season, but it’s hardly been his lone reason for struggle. The weight of expectation appears to be crushing — he was made a healthy scratch on a few occasions and is on pace to finish the year with just 16 points, which would be his lowest since breaking in as a full-time NHLer during the 2010-11 campaign.