RALEIGH, N.C. — Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell says he's retiring after the season as he fights multiple sclerosis.
Bickell said following Saturday night's 5-4 shootout loss to St. Louis that he and his family came to the decision "probably about 3-4 days ago. His final game comes Sunday night at Philadelphia.
"My biggest thing was my health," Bickell said. "I don't want to take risks, and obviously I played hockey for my life, and it's obviously tough to leave, but I've got a life after hockey and to be healthy, and watch my kids grow up will be important."
The 31-year-old, three-time Stanley Cup champion with Chicago was diagnosed with MS in November but returned to hockey in February when he was assigned to the Hurricanes' AHL affiliate in Charlotte.
He was in the lineup for the game against the Blues, his third with the Hurricanes since rejoining them .
Earlier in the day, Bickell took part in a walk to benefit MS research and his teammates surprised him by joining in and wearing T-shirts that said "BickellBrave."
During the game, he received a pair of ovations from the crowd, including one when he was announced as the winner of the team's Steve Chiasson Award for determination and dedication to the game. That award is determined by a vote of the players.