Add Bryan Bickell to the short but slowly growing list of Chicago Blackhawks playing overseas.
He made the announcement on Twitter on Tuesday evening, though he did not mention which team had signed him:
@bbicks29 Tomorrow is the day I bring my skills over seas. #Austria
According to the Twitter timeline of his fiancée, Amanda Caskenette, Bickell will be playing in the Austrian (Erste Bank) Hockey League for Orli Znojmo, which is based in Znojmo, Czech Republic. The club, formed in 1933, joined the Austrian league in May 2011 after spending two seasons in the Czech First League. Prior to that, the club was part of the Czech Extraliga from 1999 to 2009.
Bickell arrived in Chicago last week and had been practicing with his Blackhawks teammates, including Dave Bolland, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Daniel Carcillo, in informal practices orchestrated by team captain Jonathan Toews. Those practices also included former teammates such as Troy Brouwer and Brian Campbell.
In his second full season with the Blackhawks, Bickell had 9 goals and 24 points in 71 games, which followed the 17 goals and 20 assists in 78 games he earned during the 2010-2011 season. Although his name is not on the Stanley Cup, Bickell was awarded a ring after the Blackhawks won in 2010.
Bickell is the third Blackhawks player to head to Europe. Michael Frolik signed with the Czech Extraliga’s HC Chomutov on September 22, while newly signed Blackhawk Michal Rozsival signed with HC Plzen on September 25. Meanwhile, Kane, Toews and Sharp have stated that they are considering heading overseas but will hold off on a final decision for the time being.