It’s hard for hockey players, especially fighters, to adhere to the old Donald Yetter Gardner song of “All I want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.” Often, those teeth are fake.
For New York Rangers defenseman Stu Bickel, he got a black and blue eye. Technically it was a belated gift, as it happened the day after Christmas in a fight with Michal Haley of the rival Islanders.
Bickel was in good spirits Wednesday despite one heck of a right-eye shiner
“It feels good,” he said, smiling.
Any pain? “No, not really,” Bickel responded. “Just typical, what you’d expect.”
Bickel, a 25-year-old who made his NHL debut Dec. 20, has toughness like fellow Minnesota native Matt Hendricks. But at 6-foot-4 and 207 pounds, he’s in a bit of a different weight class than the Washington Capitals’ top fighter.
Bickel had eight fights in 27 American Hockey League games this season with the Connecticut Whale and two since getting the call to join the Rangers.
Bickel does more than fight. He has four assists in four games with New York and has helped the Rangers climb atop the Eastern Conference even without top defenseman Marc Staal.
“He’s played well,” coach John Tortorella said. “I just like how he handles himself.
The Rangers are unbeaten with Bickel in the lineup. He’s there again against the Caps on Wednesday night, not letting a little swollen eye get in the way.
“He’s badly bruised, but his eye’s opened up. He’ll put a shield on,” Tortorella said. “It wasn’t a question as far as what he wanted to do – he wants to play, and he’s good to go.”
Courtesy of HockeyFights.com, here’s the bout vs. Haley from Monday: