Carolina Hurricanes winger Bryan Bickell has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which will require an indefinite period of rest before determining whether his hockey career can continue.
Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis and the 30-year-old veteran announced the news Friday.
Chicago Blackhawks @NHLBlackhawks
Pres. & CEO John McDonough releases statement on Bryan Bickell, who was today diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) https://t.co/CAsVPMvKp611/11/2016, 10:23:31 PM
Carolina acquired Bickell in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks in June. The 2004 second-round pick scored just one point over his first seven games and has been sidelined since Oct. 30. He stated in Friday's release the issue dates back to last year's playoff run with Chicago.
"Since the 2015 playoffs, I've been struggling to understand what was going on with my body. Again during the past few weeks, it felt like something wasn't right," he said. "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."
Meanwhile, Francis noted the Hurricanes organization is going to give him the necessary time to begin his recovery and provided no timeline for a potential update on his status.
"First and foremost, the most important thing is for Bryan to take care of himself and our thoughts are with him and his family," he said. "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."
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society lists the condition as "an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body," on its official website.
In addition, the National MS Society notes the cause of the disease remains unknown and the "progress, severity and specific symptoms" are different from individual to individual.
Former Minnesota Wild goalie Josh Harding was diagnosed with the disease in 2012. He attempted to continue his career, playing parts of a couple seasons before a premature end to his 2014-15 campaign led him to retire in 2015.
Ultimately, the uncertain nature of multiple sclerosis' symptoms makes it unclear at this early stage whether Bickell will be able to return to the ice.