To say I was happy for Thomas Hickey last night, might be the understatement of the century. Hickey made his return to the NHL for the first time since the Islanders Game 4 in the Carolina series and it was his first regular-season game in 716 days.
From 2012 through the 2017-2018 season, Hickey was a regular on the blue line. He was a third-pairing defenseman for the most part who wasn’t afraid to pitch-in offensively. He was even donned as Mr. Overtime during the 2015-2016 season.
He had a knack for scoring clutch goals, including this OT game-winner against the Florida Panthers:
After the 2017-2018 season, which saw him put up a career-high of 25 points, and somehow was a +20 on an absolutely awful defensive team, he re-signed to a four-year $10 million contract. He’s played just 41 games with the Islanders since signing that deal.
In his first year, he started as a regular before an injury sidelined him in December 2018. Devon Toews came in and made an immediate impact making Hickey an extra d-man once he returned from his injury.
Last year, was the year from hell for Thomas. He played just 14 games with the Sound Tigers due to injury and also the unfortunate passing of his brother, Dan. It’s unfathomable, what Thomas Hickey had to go through last year and to see him able to get another shot at the NHL brought a smile to the faces of Islanders fans.
In the first period, he picked up a couple of assists, including the primary on Casey Cizikas’ second goal. Hickey to Cizikas? Major 2013 vibes were given off on this one:
It’s like he hasn’t missed a beat. With Noah Dobson still out due to COVID protocol, I fully expect to see more of Hickey in the next few games, and beyond that who knows. At a minimum, he eased the idea of needing to trade for a depth d-man.
After the game, Hickey spoke about his return and what it meant to him:
Congrats to Thomas Hickey for not only making his return, but coming back and looking like he belonged all along. Talk about a feel-good story!