Former Blackhawk Bryan Bickell diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis

RALEIGH, NC - Former Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

The Executive Vice President and General Manager of Bickell's current team, the Carolina Hurricanes, made the announcement today.

"First and foremost, the most important thing is for Bryan to take care of himself and our thoughts are with him and his family," said Ron Francis. "He will need to take some time to rest in the immediate future, and we will support him as he takes the necessary steps for his health. We ask that his privacy be respected during the process."

"Since the 2015 playoffs, I've been struggling to understand what was going on with my body. Again during the past few weeks, it felt like something wasn't right," noted Bickell. "Obviously this is a bit of a shock for my family and me, but I am hopeful I will be able to return to the ice and continue playing the game that I love."

Bickell was drafted by Chicago in the second round of the 2004 NHL Draft and has scored 66 goals and tallied 70 assists in 391 NHL career regular-season games.

The Blackhawks President and CEO John McDonough released a statement saying:

Our thoughts are with Bryan, his family and the Carolina Hurricanes during this challenging time. He has built so many lasting relationships in Chicago both inside and outside of the Blackhawks organization based on his play on the ice and character off of it. Together, we will keep him in our thoughts during his fight against the disease.