We came across your wedding video on Youtube and it was very sweet, how did you two meet?
BRYAN: I was emotional that day!
AMANDA: Lots of tears that day.
BRYAN: It took awhile to get to that day. We were together for 10 years before that. I met her when I was 16. I had to move away from my family to Ottawa [to play for the 67’s] where she is originally from. Being 16 coming into a new city, I was hanging out with some guys and she knew a guy on the team so we were introduced. Her best friend was my neighbor so we starting seeing each other more and more. She didn’t like me at the start. I had to twist her arm.
AMANDA: He called me non-stop. He was very persistent. So I thought, “Okay, maybe he is a good guy.” [Laughs]
What has been the key to growing together after meeting so young?
AMANDA: I don’t know, I feel like we’ve grown a lot but we’ve grown a lot together. We moved in together after three years of being together and I think that’s probably the biggest step for most people. It was very easy for the two of us. There weren’t things that we were like, “Oh my God, I hate this,” or,” I can’t stand this.” I mean you always have your little things like any relationship, nobody is perfect but it’s been fairly easy for us.
Has the traveling ever been a strain on the relationship?
AMANDA: I’m Canadian so living in the U.S. away from my family, away from all of my friends and not being able to have an outlet was really hard for me in the beginning. I would take my frustration out on him but now that I’ve found something that I love with our foundation it helps me feel like I have a purpose so everything has been pretty easy since then.
Can you name one thing you do that might annoy Amanda?
BRYAN: Probably that I don’t listen. I always pull the excuse that I don’t remember things because I get hit in the head too much.
We hear you’re a big “Duck Dynasty” fan?
BRYAN: Yup. I think I’ve watched every episode. Jase is the best, he’s the funniest. Phil is pretty funny too but Jase has the best humor.
What is something Bryan’s teammates might not know about him?
AMANDA: He’s kind of an open book. That’s a hard one. I’d have to think about that one.
BRYAN: That I bake or something?
AMANDA: That’s not really funny.
That surprises us!
BRYAN: They are laughing! I know how to make muffins from scratch.
AMANDA: He bakes one thing: banana chocolate chip muffins.
Do you still get nervous when he gets into a fight on the ice?
AMANDA: No, it doesn’t phase me. I’m a little of the opposite. I’m the one that says, “When are you going to fight again?” [Laughs] But I also grew up doing karate and things like that. I love boxing and UFC so that’s probably where that stems from. Before we moved in together he lost his teeth, had a broken nose, a black eye, big fat [swollen] lips and I thought, “Okay, it doesn’t get much worse than this!”
BRYAN: She’s seen enough to know I can handle myself. I don’t think she gets scared.
What is the most common thing you hear from Blackhawks fans?
BRYAN: That I’m a badass I guess, because I hit a lot. I’m a physical guy and everyone likes the big physical players. And they’re happy that I stayed in Chicago.
AMANDA: They love how you dominated [Zdeno] Chára.
BRYAN: I don’t know [about that].
AMANDA: I think so!
As a wife, does it ever bug you to see the “puck bunnies” professing their love to your man?
AMANDA: I mean, it comes with the territory. If I allowed everything that I saw or read to bother me I’d truly just go crazy. There are obviously things that kind of push the limit that bother you. When we first moved in together it was a big learning process for both of us to find a way to deal with that type of stuff and still have confidence in each other. It’s definitely something that is difficult.
What is a pet peeve of Coach Quenneville’s?
BRYAN: When someone breaks a rule such as being on time. I think that’s the biggest thing for him. We have meetings, video and all of that stuff and if you’re not on time you can just see that he’s mad.
What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome in your career and what got you through it?
BRYAN: I think it was being in the minor leagues as long as I was, for three and a half years. You have to have that attitude to never give up and fight through it especially the times where you’re like, “I’m never going to make that national league,” and you’re thinking, “Let’s quit hockey and have a normal 9-to-5 job and be around all of our friends and family and have a routine.” I worked hard and stuck with it and I’m just happy good things really happened.
AMANDA: He really lives by the motto, “Never give up,” because when we were in Rockford for quite awhile [with the IceHogs] there was a time when he was called up and down for four years and it was like, “Are we ever going to make it?” You see a lot of people going up and you think, “I guess I’m not going to make it,” but he kept working at it. Some guys give up too early but he didn’t give up and he’s here now.
So it goes without saying winning the cup was a special moment.
BRYAN: When we won the first Stanley Cup in 2010 it was special but even though I was there for the playoffs I didn’t get any games in. When I really won it in 2013 I had Amanda and my family there and it was emotional. You think about all of the sacrifices they’ve made while I was growing up, for Amanda to leave her family and her friends to be with me. It was emotional. I’m thankful for all they’ve done really. If I didn’t have them I wouldn’t be playing hockey.
AMANDA: Bryan is really tough. I say a lot that he’s an unemotional guy.
BRYAN: Except how you saw me in that [wedding] video. It comes out. I just build it up for special moments. I wasn’t raised to show it.
AMANDA: That’s the thing, it’s funny. There’s only two scenarios where he’s been emotional and it’s either with winning and accomplishing something great in hockey that he’s strived for his whole life and then our wedding. They seem to catch him being emotional a lot but he’s actually pretty tough.
In those moments of doubt, what would have been your 9-to-5 job?
BRYAN: Probably something to do with my hands. Having my dad’s background, what he does. He can build a house, he can fix a car. Cutting grass or building a house, something in construction.
Being from Canada, have all of your family members made the switch to Blackhawks fans?
BRYAN: At the start her mom was a Toronto fan.
AMANDA: She had a really hard time when Toronto played Chicago figuring out what team to she wanted to go for.
BRYAN: I was a Leaf fan growing up, my parents were Leaf fans. Everybody that I grew up with are all Leaf fans but now because of what I’ve done with the Blackhawks it’s safe to say everyone wants to root for the local boy.
Who were your hockey idols growing up?
BRYAN: Being a Leaf fan there’s a guy named Wendel Clark. I wanted to play like him, I always wore his number until I got to the Blackhawks. I liked his style, I guess my dad was a fan of his too so it kind of carried on.
What’s on the Bickell’s bucket list? Skydiving?
AMANDA: That’s definitely on my bucket list. I’m more extreme. I’m more adventurous than he is. I can’t get him on a roller coaster.
BRYAN: Yeah, she is. I’m getting older. I’m starting to get more scared of heights. I’ll go on it but I choose not to.
So Bryan will be taking your child on all of the little rides?
BRYAN: Yeah, I’ll take her on the little rides.
AMANDA: He’ll go on the tea cups!
The Bryan & Amanda Bickell Foundation raises awareness for misunderstood dogs labeled pit bulls and uses them to help children suffering from bullying and abuse. When was the moment you knew you were making a difference?
AMANDA: We had one of our events last year—actually, it was this year—my years go by in seasons so [in my mind] years are like September to July or September to September really. So it was in January, it was our A Fetching Affair event and I had gone up and spoke about why we were doing this. After I spoke about it I had multiple people come up to me and really open up. Some of them shed a tear and talked about how they had been abused as a child and that they wouldn’t have been able to get through those experiences without their pit bull type dog. They said if it wasn’t for their dog that they wouldn’t have made it and they probably wouldn’t be here today so they thanked me for doing what we are doing. It felt really good knowing that what we’re doing has a purpose.
You currently have 2 pit bulls, would you like more?
BRYAN: Yeah. I tell Amanda all of the time if we had a normal job and didn’t travel that we’d probably have more dogs but now we’re having a newborn. I’d like to have a lot of dogs but I think two right now [works].
AMANDA: It’s hard with him always gone to have more dogs but even more importantly where we live in the summertime in Ontario pit bulls are banned. We are allowed to bring Bailey across because she was born before 2005.
If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?
AMANDA: I can’t say my family or I’ll cry.
BRYAN: Your papa.
AMANDA: See, he knows right away. I’d love for Bryan to have a drink with him because he never got to meet him. He passed right before he came into my life … We really like comedians and funny guys and stuff like that so I think it would be cool to have a drink with someone who is pretty funny.
BRYAN: Like Will Ferrell. We met Vince Vaughn a couple of times before, he is pretty funny.
Favorite Chicago restaurants?
BRYAN: We like sushi. Sunda is good. We like Ra on Rush. We do Hot Wok down the road from our house, they had their own Bickell roll at one time.
By the time this is published you might be able to eat sushi again. Is the nursery ready to go for your daughter’s arrival?
BRYAN: Yeah, there’s some minor stuff that we need to do. I tried to hang a chandelier in the bedroom.
AMANDA: But we need an electrician … I think I almost go electrocuted.
BRYAN: It looks nice it just doesn’t turn on so my dad is going to come in and help us.
Any nervousness about raising a little girl?
BRYAN: No, I remember my dad was hard and would say things like, “You can’t date my daughter unless you have a working job,” that kind of stuff. I think I’m going to be a good dad. I’m going to let my kids have fun and not be too strict to the point where every time we say no they go cry in their room or something like that.
KIRSTEN MICCOLI / A DRINK WITH AT THE PONY CHICAGO
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