Bryan Bickell’s Parents: ‘You’re the one who made it’ Bryan Bickell picks at the laces on his skates as he sits in front of his locker in the basement of the United Center.

"I think about it sometimes," he begins. The Blackhawks left winger goes quiet. He wants to taste these words before he lets them out. Bryan Bickell was supposed to be a twin.

bryan bickett His mother, Anne Bickell, miscarried his sibling four months into her pregnancy. Ultrasounds then were not as routine as they are today, so Anne Bickell didn't know until a couple of weeks later she still was pregnant.

"They didn't realize I was still in the room," Bickell says. "It is kind of crazy. What if him or her was in the world, where would I be?"

Five months later, on March 9, 1986, Bryan Bickell was born, the second of Bill and Anne Bickell's two children.

"I was fortunate," Bickell says. Bryan was nine or 10 years old when he learned of the sibling he didn't have. "We told him, 'You're the one who made it,' "Bill says. " 'You can't really hold back.' "

Bryan Bickell grew up in a three-bedroom, two-bath brick bungalow on an acre of land in Orono — a quiet, rural town of about 1,600 located 45 minutes east of Toronto. There's a ravine in the back, where the family's dogs play. The sign welcoming visitors to town touts its most famous native: "Welcome you. Watch for our children.

Home of Stanley Cup Champion Bryan Bickell." This is where Bryan fished and played sports with his older sister, Ashley. This was where he would sell hockey cards at the end of the family's driveway by day and tell his dreams to his sister by night. "He told me once he was going to be a millionaire," Ashley says. It is where Bryan once froze the home's septic system after flooding the yard above it for a makeshift rink. It is the place where Bill, a retired heavy equipment operator who keeps busy running a construction company, and Anne, who runs an automotive garage and owns a quilt store, still call home.

A net still hangs in the Bickells' yard, the same net at which Bryan would fire puck after puck until dusk, pretending he played for the Maple Leafs. Orono also is where Bryan Bickell's hockey career was born — in figure skates. That's how he learned to manoeuvre on the ice as a toddler. "I always say I got the skills and the other twin had the brains," Bryan says. Bickell, also an outstanding baseball player in his youth, left home to play junior hockey for the Ottawa 67s. When he wasn't playing, he worked at a bike store or as a construction worker.

He was a clubhouse boy for six months for the Ottawa Senators, for whom he picked up dirty laundry and towels, and cleaned up garbage. He landed the job through a co-op work-study program, a filler course so he could graduate from high school. Little did he know then that he now would be chasing a Stanley Cup with one of those Senators, Antoine Vermette. "Not every day a 16-year-old, 17-year-old kid that plays hockey gets to go in the locker room and watch NHL players — how they perform and practise, how the locker room is," Bryan says.

In 2004, the Blackhawks selected him 41{+s}t overall in the second round of the NHL draft. He is now in the third year of a four-year, $16-million extension he signed in the summer of 2013. That million-dollar dream came true. He's married now, to Amanda, and the two have a baby daughter named Makayla.

He was honoured as Blackhawk of the Year during the Comcast SportsNet Sports Awards in March for his contributions on and off the ice. But there are times when wonder nags at him. He says he has seen the connection twins can share.

Then he takes to heart his father's words: You're the one who made it. You can't hold back. "You don't want to see bad things happen," Bryan says. "If I had a twin I probably wouldn't be playing hockey. It was tough financially (for my family) for me to play."

Blackhawks fans always will remember Bryan Bickell as the one who started the famous "17 seconds." His goal with 1 minute, 16 seconds left against the Bruins in Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final preceded Dave Bolland's winning score 17 seconds later.

Bickell endured some sleepy play during the 2014-15 regular season, when he saw his ice time dwindle as he struggled offensively. He doesn't have a goal this postseason but contributed two assists in the first round against the Predators, against whom he used his 6-foot-4, 233-pound frame for a team-best 35 hits. He's led the Hawks in hits against the Wild with 28. He finished the regular season with 14 goals and 14 assists. "He has had some games where he looks like he's showing he's there or he's coming out of it,"

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "He's a threat to be an impact power forward we like. He's showing more signs of consistency in games, where he's going to be making an impact shift in, shift out, which could really influence a game." Bickell had nine goals, eight assists and a plus-minus of plus-11 during the 2013 playoffs, and seven goals and three assists last postseason.

He has 20 goals and 16 assists and is a plus-20 in 63 career postseason games. "You just have to look at how he plays and how he feels," Bill Bickell says. "He likes ice. You piss him off, you have a hockey player. But it takes a lot to get him pissed off. Maybe that's one of his faults." Or maybe it takes a lot because Bryan Bickell has gone through a lot to get here. He can't predict where here will lead.

One thing is for sure, though: Bryan Bickell hasn't held back. Chicago Tribune

 

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