Quenneville: Bickell could be back by Christmas

Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell will practice with the team for the first time on Friday and could return to game action as early as Dec. 20, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.

“I would expect him to play here before Christmas,” Quenneville said on “The Coach Q Show” on WGN-AM 720 on Friday morning. “We got these three in four nights, maybe the next game after that. Maybe we’ll get a closer, better assessment whether he’ll be able to play that Vancouver [Canucks] game [on Nov. 20] or before Christmas. We’re hopeful he’ll be able to join us before then.”

Bickell has missed 12 games due to a lower-body injury he suffered when he crashed into a goalpost against the Colorado Avalanche on Nov. 19. He has five goals and one assist in 22 games this season.

Bickell signed a four-year, $16-million contract in the offseason after breaking out for nine goals and eight assists in 23 playoff games during the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run. He had nine goals and 14 assists in 48 regular-season game last season.