Blackhawks Rookies: Has Jimmy Hayes Already Stolen Bryan Bickell’s Job?

With just a few games under his belt, has Blackhawks rookie Jimmy Hayes already started pushing Bryan Bickell out of the Hawks’ rotation?

Consider, first of all, the tale of the tape:

  Bickell Hayes
Age         25         22
Height        6-4        6-6
Weight        223        221
$$  $ 541,667  $ 875,000

The page doesn’t lie: these are a couple big boys.

Last year, Bickell was able to get his feet wet in the NHL and performed fairly well (17 goals, 20 assists, 178 hits) in 78 games with the Blackhawks. Indeed, based on last year’s performance, Bickell was viewed by many as one of the better value contracts in the Central Division coming into this year.

This year, however, has been a different story for Bickell. He has only four goals and four assists through the team’s first 40 games. Yes, he has 70 hits, but his minus-seven is tied with Michael Frolik for the second-worst number on the roster (Andrew Brunette sits at minus-nine).

Meanwhile, Hayes was brought up at the end of the calendar year before the Hawks hosted the Detroit Red Wings. He came into action without showing many signs of being overwhelmed against a hot Wings team, and set the tone physically early in his NHL debut.

Here are the ice time totals and number of shifts for the two in Hayes’ first three NHL games:

            Bickell           Hayes
  TOI sh TOI sh
12/30 – DET 13:27 21 8:23 12
1/2 – EDM 9:26 12 7:40 11
1/5 – @ PHI 9:33 14 8:33 12

There isn’t a clear trend developing, but Hayes has seen more critical ice time. Why? It’s simple: Hayes is producing.

In three games since being recalled from Rockford, Hayes has two goals.

In 23 games since the start of November, Bickell has one goal and two assists.

Looking closer at the three games since Hayes was brought up, it’s starting to become clear that the rookie is putting pressure on Bickell to perform. Hayes has more hits (six) than Bickell (five) in the three games, an indicator on paper that fans’ eyes haven’t lied: Hayes has been more physical than Bickell.

But the most disgusting statistic from Bickell in the last three games comes in the shots on goal category. With a kid clearly in position to take his ice time away, Bickell has been credited with two (2) shots on goal in three games, and both of them were against the Flyers. Hayes, on the other hand, has been credited with seven shots.

The cards are on the table, and Bickell is doing little to help himself.

However, if we’re going to answer this piece’s title question, we must do so in two parts.

While there is certainly enough about Hayes’ game to fall in love with after three games, we must hit the pause button. He’s only played in three NHL games. One plus for Hayes is that two of those games have come against Detroit and Philadelphia, two of the better teams in the league. But the sample size is still too small to say, without a doubt, that Hayes is ready for a full-time NHL gig.

With that being said, however, there’s a second half of the answer to this question that we can confidently provide: Bickell is playing himself out of a spot on the Blackhawks roster.

We’ve seen 34 games from Bickell this year and one stretch where he got to watch from the press box as a motivational move by the coaching staff. Too many times in every game is he standing still or out of position. He’s had plenty of opportunities to cement himself as a player on this roster, but has continued to fail.

So while we might not know if Hayes is ready, we can say with a fair amount of certainty that Bickell isn’t working right now. As the Hawks shop for a defenseman and/or a center before the deadline, we’ll have to hope that Bickell’s 17 goal performance from last year convinces a general manager in another city that a change of scenery is necessary for him.

17 thoughts on “Blackhawks Rookies: Has Jimmy Hayes Already Stolen Bryan Bickell’s Job?

  • January 6, 2012 at 1:39 am

    Yup, Bickell has been straight awful and many Hawks fans are or should be ecstatic to see hard working young guns coming up to replace him and other lazy and/or mostly ineffective players (Frolik, Stalberg). If a player isn’t burying or setting up goals – he had better be dropping bodies while being extra solid defensively and staying out of the box. Imo, if Bowman and Q are as wise as we believe them to be, they will realize that bringing in players that will HAMMER the opposition consistently and cleanly will do wonders by creating space and making opponents think twice or cough the puck up. Yes, until recently our boys have been at the tippy top but those who know hockey and have followed them have a strong sense that they could have easily have created and maintained a larger gap at the top… But the physical element has been Sorely lacking. Praise be to Jammer who brings hustle and pain to every game. The order of business as most would agree, is one responsible, bruising D and one power Centre. Give up first rounders til the cows come home, Mr. Bowman, because if you get those two pieces and dump some fodder, you’ll be able to feed those cows from the Stanley Cup again this year.

  • January 6, 2012 at 2:07 am

    could bickell be just going through a sophmore slump? and what to say hayes won’t go through the same exact thing next year? so before we give up on bickell i think we should atleast wait till next year too see what happen

  • January 6, 2012 at 8:40 am

    @Tim – Imo, one full year (or more as you might suggest) is far too long. Half a season of opportunity is plenty for a guy who doesn’t appear to be giving anywhere near 100% effort.

  • January 6, 2012 at 9:20 am


    Bickel is useless. For his size, he plays like a woman…and I’ve watched women’s Olympic hockey, so that’s an insult to women (sorry!) When you float around the ice, can’t receive a simple pass without coughing it up, don’t hit anyone with any kind of authority, when you are 6’4 and 230 lbs, you are useless. I wish we could put Shaw’s attitude in Bickel’s body…and there is the power forward our team desperately needs. I believe we need more than 1 PF too…but that’s another discussion.

    Dylan Olsen should STAY here…as he’s no worse that any of the other plugs on the bottom pair (OD, Scott, Lepisto, Monty!) Heck, I think he and Monty would make a pretty decent bottom pair. Kid has the tools, and I liked what I saw in him last night in his first NHL game…

  • January 6, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    How is this article solely about Bickell? Yes, I agree with the premise that Tab makes, but what I find amazing is how the entire Hawk nation is giving a BLIND EYE to Patrick Kane…

    Every year we end up having this conversation, and this season seems to be the worst of all…he has DISAPPEARED…not for a couple of games, but for 6 weeks going on 2 months…he started out the year very well as the 2nd Centreman, and because he was scoring and playing out of position, we all gave him a free pass for his atrocious defensive zone play. But no longer…he was moved back to the wing of the best Centre in hockey this season who works harder than anyone, and he didn’t produce…now he has been sent back to the 2nd line Centre role, and still little or no production, but what is worse, is his defensive zone play has become completely innocuous…no physical play, no defensive zone coverage, no back checking, poor in the face off circle and no presence along the boards.

    How is it that all of us tolerate this crap from Kane year after year??? Yes, he scored the game winning goal in the Stanley Cup finals, but for what we are paying him, he needs to do more…if we are seriously thinking about winning another Cup, Kane should be the first name of the trade list…we could get a lot in return for Kane, and we have enough in the way of young players that fill the void in scoring.

    Enough is enough with this guy!

  • January 6, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Trading Patrick Kane is laughable. I’m sorry, but it is. Do parts of his game need to be better? Absolutely, and I’m certainly not ignoring his problems on the defensive end of the ice. If you’re looking to Kane to be a physical forward you need to adjust your approach to watching the game. That isn’t his role, and never will be. But to trade a 20-something superstar is straight out of the Bob Pulford School of Murdering a Franchise.

  • January 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    I don’t agree Tab…I understand on the surface that it sounds like a desperate move, but in reality it doesn’t have to be…the player(s) in return would have to make sense, in terms of how they can impact this team’s areas of needs, plus their contracts and how long we would have control of their contracts.

    At the end of the day, what has Kane done in the last month, perhaps longer??? We were almost unbeatable in December without him, but once Hoss, Sharpie and Tazer start to slump, and our defence issues rear their ugly head again (see last night), this team will be in trouble because Kane has proven himself to NOT be a game changer…yes, he has scored some big goals (Game 5 vs. Nashville and the SC final) but he doesn’t have the moxy or gumption to single handedly take over a game, like he is PAID TO DO…

    The Kane argument is that he is young and a point a game player…except he really isn’t…he is close to being a PPG player, and seemingly at times a lot more, but he never gets there, and that speaks volumes about his mental makeup and character.

    Last night Kane was the worst player on the ice for both teams, and this was a game that his talents needed to surface…Q even moved Shaw (and his spark) onto the 2nd line for the 3rd period to HELP KANE…the move worked, as it created more ice space for Kane, and after missing a couple of good chances he finally put one in…and then??? Mr. Non-Contact goes and high sticks a Flyer with under 2 minutes and the game is over…


    So trading Kane, a supposed young superstar is NOT killing the franchise if you get the right players, and contracts, in return. What this team doesn’t need is Kane’s scoring to win another championship (10 goals and 27 assists, with only 2 goals and 7 assists on the PP and an awful shootout record), we need a strong, 2 way Centre, who is a leader, a + player, and brings grit to the table. Take on this player and his contract for 6 years, and we will have more success with him than with Kane.

    And if I am wrong, then explain to me Kane’s huge value to this team, and when is he finally going to mature into the superstar that everyone likes to think he is? Year 5? On a line with Toews, Sharp and Hossa and only 1 Defenceman?

    I ask these things with great respect to your hockey knowledge and savvy, but I just don’t see the value in having Patrick Kane on this hockey team.


  • January 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    Brad, I luv it!

    Tab, “trading Patrick Kane is laughable”! C’mon… You are the same guy that said Shaw was not ready, when I suggested they bring him up… then they brought him up and you said he will not stick! Then you write an article on him! Now I am not going to foolishly say he is ready to stick… but he proved that he has bigger balls than the last few call ups… the guy was in the right place most of the nite. And showed some skill!

    Kane is a good player but has become a commercial whore… he says he has worked hard on his “release”… he has shanked more one timers this year then the last three combined… “who you crappin”!!!! His best attributes are vision and skating…. work on your skating to get the shot off Patty! And stay away from the cameras!

    I have been to a few of the Open practices… he is one of the 1st guys to leave the ice evey time… Sharp stays and shoots, Kruger yes, Hossa sometimes. Kane never!

    I would take Parise, Marchand, Giroux etc. any day over Kane!

    As far as Bickell… yes he has disappeared, but Bruno equally pathetic excluding PP…
    Watching Bruno trying to get off the ice during a sixty to ninety second while the opposing team cycles the puck is BAD!!!

    I begged for the Hawks to bring up Hayes months ago… they should also give him chance on PK (did a good job in College)… but we have close to 6 mill… if Shaw and Hayes continue to contribute… ( big IF) the Hawks will be o.k—

    If Campbell were still here, Hawks would be much better!!!

  • January 6, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    I guess the first part of my response is somewhat rhetorical: can you define “adequate value” in a theoretical trade for a player like Kane? And the second half of my response is more disbelief that less than 20 months after scoring a Cup-winning goal some folks in Chicago are ready to run Kaner out of town because he’s having a slow goal-scoring season. He’s been almost a point-per-game player in his career (340 pts in 357 gms). The reality is that Kane works within this Chicago roster really well, and will continue to do so. Throwing him out the door because he’s mediocre defensively is ludicrious to me.

  • January 6, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    @Wall – I still don’t think Shaw’s ready for full-time NHL duty and stand by my initial comments. The fact that he’s in Chicago, and played a good game in Philly, is fantastic and, frankly, unexpected… but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to be an NHL player. Furthermore, you saying you would take Brad Marchand over Patrick Kane almost cost me my lunch… you cannot be serious.

  • January 6, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    I am not saying Marchand is better… just saying 2 mill. sal vs. 5-6 mill. ??? I would take Marchand and the cap room. Too many people are drinking the “Kane kool-aid!”

    Kane gets a good % of points on the PP… Bruno can score on the PP!!! The PP should score Points… he can’t play PK, hit, or defend!

    Let’s compare Kane vs. Marchand in their respective Cup runs.
    Kane scored more points, all of the points can be attributed to PP points…
    Kane shot around 6%… Marchand shot 16%…
    Marchand can play PK, Hits, and was +12
    Kane can’t hit, can’t play PK, and was -2.

    Yes PP is part of game and Yes Kane is skilled in open ice (PP).
    But the +/- tells the real story as well as the shot %!!!

    I don’t honestly think Shaw sticks either (hope I am wrong)… just say the Hawks are thin right now and he deserves a good look and Hawks need to assess what they really have… we (think) we know what they need!

    And not saying they should trade Kane ( but like Brad states we should see what we could get)… and really the Hawks would be better w/ Marchand and 3.5 mill more to spend! Of course, Marchand will soon be commanding 4-6 million too!

  • January 6, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    2009 WCSF Game 6 vs. Vancouver.
    2010 Olympic gold medal game.
    2010 Game 5 vs Nashville.
    2010 Game 6 SCF.

    How much would you be willing to pay a 23 year old for those critical performances?

  • January 8, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    The Marchand comparison is ridiculous, enough said about that. However, all who say it’s unthinkable to trade Kane are not being rational. There are probably only 2 or 3 players in the league that are untradeable and Jonathan Toews would be one of them. I would not hesitate to move Kane out for let’s say Ryan Getzlaf straight up. Kane is one of the most over-rated players in the league. Forget about his size and lack of committment, he simply is not a dominant point producer and for someone who offers nothing else he has to score much more than he does.

  • January 9, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I say we keep him for 1 more year he could be like byfuglien and show up big in the playoffs

  • January 9, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Interesting argument, a couple of yeas ago, I would not have contemplated moving Kane, but he really hasn’t grown as an NHL player he has become very one dimensional. I have heard it said lately that the Hawks are top heavy and I am starting to think just maybe this is true. So who would you part with from the top heavy guys, and Toews is not in the equation of course. Hossa, Sharpie or Kane? The Hawks are not the team that can roll four lines like they were just a couple of seasons ago, so maybe on of the big guns needs to get moved and out of those three I can’t see Kane as a more valuable hawk.

  • January 10, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    I’m fascinated by fans that will in no way listen to someone saying Dave Bolland is expendable, but are ready to trade Patrick Kane in the first deal that presents itself. And by fascinated, I mean I laugh out loud. You can cry all you want about Kane’s defense, but you don’t trade a superstar that is just entering his prime, especially when there are years left on his contract. No way. That bandwagon’s dead to me. But if you want a guy that’s become a mediocre, below-average 3rd line center for 82 games just at the prospect of him mouthing off at the Sedins for $3.5M, have at it. I’d deal Bolland before Kane a million times without blinking.

  • January 14, 2012 at 3:16 am

    Kane is in a slump. Slumps happen in sports, no matter how much you get paid. Even though Kane is in a (prolonged) slump, he’s STILL almost a point-per-game player!

    When he’s on his game, he creates space and chances as well as anybody in the league. Kane’s upside is easily worth sticking through the down times. Eventually, he’ll snap out of it, get on one of his hot streaks, and I’ll think about this trade talk laughing.

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