Bryan Bickell has been one of the most talked-about members of the Chicago Blackhawks during the Stanley Cup playoffs. His soft hands and big physicality have made him one of the more talked-about free agents in the upcoming offseason, and in that spirit, the NHL asked him to keep a blog detailing his playoff exploits.
On Thursday night, Bickell used that blog to talk about an interesting topic: his path to the NHL.
Obviously, there was the litany of stops in peewee and junior hockey (including one with a team called the Toronto Red Wings, where he got to play with future teammate Dave Bolland), but there was one passage in particular that was especially interesting:
“The funny thing is I would also play baseball in the summer because my parents wanted me to shift my focus away from hockey for at least a little while. They didn’t’ want me to be thinking about hockey all the time. I got pretty good at baseball, so much so that when I was 15 the New York Yankees came to scout me.”
Obviously, we know the path that Bickell chose, but he is far from the only person for whom hockey and baseball intersected.
Tom Glavine, a surefire Hall of Famer who won over 300 plus games in his career, was actually drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round of the 1984 NHL Entry Draft. He was drafted by the Atlanta Braves that same year, and obviously opted to play baseball.
Justin Morneau, known for his years as an excellent hitting first baseman for the Minnesota Twins, was good enough at hockey to be placed on the Protected Player List for the Portland Winter Hawks of the Western Hockey League.
Clark Gillies, known for his successful career with the New York Islanders, played for two years in the Houston Astros’ farm system before his NHL career began.
We could go on forever with the mixes between the two sports, but we’ll go back to Bickell. His blog has been an intriguing read during this postseason, with thoughts on issues ranging from contradicting reports on the injury to Marian Hossa:
“With Hossa, we knew earlier in the day that he could be a game-time decision, but he took warmups and skated all the way through like he was going to play. But, Hossa came into the room about 10 minutes before we were going on the ice and addressed the team, basically telling us that he was sorry, but he didn’t feel he could be an effective player for us Monday night because of his injury.”
“Sure, when you’re on the road you can go for a walk around the city to loosen up your legs and see some sights, but for the most part, the guys like Mario Kart because it’s fun, competitive, and it passes the time.”
Note: this isn't the first year that the Blackhawks have embraced Mario Kart. They did back in their 2010 Cup run as well:
Needless to say, Bickell’s blog has been quite the entertaining read during the postseason, and if you’re interested in checking it out, you can click any of the links provided, or just visit NHL.com for more.