Pretty much everyone knows that I’m a big Stu Bickel fan.
While he may not have had a spectacular rookie season with the Rangers last season, he won my heart. He showed that with grit and determination, he could play in the NHL (longer than most had expected him to). But his rookie season wasn’t one without some mistakes. Some were costly, and some were what is expected of a rookie. Heck, he even made black eyes sexy.
Bickel surpassed my somewhat low expectations of him with his confidence and persistence. Even after being benched, he’d come back out the next shift/game with a vengeance. He didn’t let his mistakes affect his play in later games. Obviously Tortorella saw something in him, as he kept him in the lineup despite his sub-par play at times. Bickel played forward, defense… it didn’t matter. He wanted to play, even if he had to strap on some goal pads.
With Brandon Prust now out of the picture, the question is, where will Bickel fit in? Prust and Bickel have their similarities, but are very different players. Sure, he’s not a goal scorer or a finesse-y type player, but he can make things happen on the ice. You know he’ll be one of the first players to stand up and fight. You know he’ll fight for his spot on the team. You know that he’ll play with the grit and determination that he displayed last year.
I don’t expect Bickel to play 15-20 minutes a game, nor do I expect him to be a key player in all games. What I do expect is for Bickel to build on this past season, learn from his mistakes and grow as a player.
Filed Under: Rangers
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