Bickell's 'amazing' year continues

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell may never experience a summer as memorable as this one.

Bickell began the summer by becoming a playoffs star with 17 points in 23 playoff games which only trailed Patrick Kane for the team lead. He scored the first of the two goals in 17 seconds to defeat the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals and clinched the second championship for the Blackhawks in the past four years. He was then rewarded with a four-year, $16 million extension. His hometown of Orono, Ontario recently put up two gateway signs to proudly claim Bickell as their own.

And Bickell still has more to come. He will get married on Saturday and will have his day with the Stanley Cup in late August.

"It's been an amazing year from the season we had to winning the Cup then getting the extension," Bickell said at the Blackhawks convention last weekend. "It's going to be a year to remember. Then getting married, having another Cup party; it's unbelievable. It still hasn't sunk in. I know we're almost halfway through the summer and just really excited and happy to be here."

The only downside of Bickell's summer was when he required surgery after the season to repair a torn tendon in his left thumb. He's not sure when he torn the tendon, but he expects to be ready when training camp opens Sept. 12.

The injury has hampered one of his hobbies, though.

"It has been affecting my fishing," Bickell said with a smile. "This wedding has been affecting my fishing, too. It's a good thing. There's a lot of fishing [ahead.] There's going to be a lot of fishing in the honey holes. Whenever they're there, I'll be ready for them. But I got to do this wedding, and this healing is more important."

Marriage won't be the only change ahead for Bickell. He became the fifth highest-paid forward on the Blackhawks with his new contract, and expectations will now match his salary.

Bickell was among the NHL's premier forwards in the playoffs last season, but he hasn't always been that level of player throughout his career. He played mostly on the third line during the 2013 regular season and produced nine goals and 14 assists in 48 games. He recorded a career-high 37 points in the 2010-2011 season.

Bickell knows what's expected of him going forward, and he's up for that challenge.

"There's definitely going to be pressures," Bickell said. "I know through my career there's been ups and downs in my consistency level, and last year was a big stepping stone for me to know what I need to bring every day to be at my top game. I feel like coming into next year I need to bring that same mindset.

"Confidence goes a long way. My confidence is still pretty high. I just need to bring it into the next season and hopefully run it. There's going to be ups and down. Just to know I can do it and hopefully I will."