Former Blackhawks player and current Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, he and the team announced Friday.
In statement released by Bickell, he revealed that the news comes after more than a year of health issues.
"Since the 2015 playoffs, I've been struggling to understand what was going on with my body," he said. "Again during the past few weeks, it felt like something wasn't right."
During that time, Bickell revealed he was dealing with symptoms of vertigo, though it remains unclear if those are the health struggles he's referring to.
"Obviously this is a bit of 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," he said.
Hurricanes GM Ron Francis said the team is supporting Bickell as he takes time off for now.
"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 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."
Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough also issued a statement saying the team's thoughts are with Bickell, his family and the Carolina Hurricanes.
"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," McDonough said. "Together, we will keep him in our thoughts during his fight against the disease.”
Bickell, 30, was traded by the Blackhawks to the Hurricanes on June 15. He played for all three of Chicago's latest Stanley Cup-winning teams in 2010, 2013, 2015.