Bryan Bickell nearing return to Hurricanes lineup after MS diagnosis

Carolina Hurricanes' Bryan Bickell (29) battles with Edmonton Oilers' Tyler Pitlick (15). (Amber Bracken/CP)

In November of 2016, Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He had played seven games for the club after it acquired him in June and he has been out of the lineup since Oct. 30.

In December, the 30-year-old said that, despite the diagnosis, he was determined to return to hockey.

“My mindset is to get back on the ice, and I think I can do that,” he said.

Now it looks like he’s about to return.

On Tuesday, Bickell said he was now targeting a five-game homestand that begins on Feb. 17 for a return to the ice.

“I feel good,” Bickell told’s Tom Gulitti after a conditioning skate. “I obviously don’t feel good right now, I just got skated pretty hard, but it’s going to help me down the long run. I think we’re getting there and getting close to getting back in the rotation. We’re shooting for probably after the bye week and then kind of day by day from there.”

The Hurricanes play Tuesday in Washington, Saturday in Dallas and then not again until the following Friday at home to Colorado after they have their “bye week.”

Bickell said he is open to a conditioning stint in the AHL before returning to the Hurricanes but that the team hasn’t approached him about that option yet.

“I’ve gotten a lot of texts and phone calls from family members that want to come down to see that first game when I come back,” he said. “Definitely it’s going to be special after the ups and downs that we’ve been through the last handful of months to finally get back to doing what I’ve done my whole life, to play hockey and to be in this league.”

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