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Blackhawks Pose with Puppies for Bickell Foundation's Pit Bull-Saving Cause

 Chicago Blackhawks players posed with pit bulls for the Bickell Foundation.
Blackhawks and Pit Bulls
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CHICAGO — Chicago Blackhawks players may have tough exteriors — but inside, they're softies.

Kind of like pit bulls.

So when forward Bryan Bickell approached his teammates to help his nonprofit with his wife Amanda — which fights against stereotypes against pit bulls and pairs docile pups with kids who've been victims of abuse — the Blackhawks grabbed some furry friends and smiled for the cameras.

The resulting "Bick's Pits" 2014 calendar, released this week, features 12 months of players and pit bulls shot by Karen Morgan Photography.

Patrick Sharp, Andrew Shaw, Corey Crawford, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brandon Bollig and Ben Smith from the Stanley Cup-winning roster all took a break from checking to say "cheese" for Bickell's cause.

The calendars, priced at $25 apiece, will help fund the foundation's missions to find homes for pit bulls in shelters and connect therapy-certified pit bulls — many victims of abuse themselves — with at-risk kids who are victims of abuse or bullying.

The Bickells were inspired to create the nonprofit after adopting their dog, a pit bull named Bailey whose tail had been cut off by her previous owner.

"A month after saving their precious puppy, the Bickell's hometown of Ontario, Canada enacted a ban against any dog resembling a pit bull," the foundation's website explains. "Within a week, Bryan and Amanda were no longer allowed at dog parks, puppy classes, or to take their puppy for a walk unless it was muzzled."

Shortly after they relocated to Chicago for Bryan Bickell to join the Hawks, "Bryan and Amanda heard the city was thinking of banning pit bulls," the website continues.

"Fearing what might happen, they knew they had to share the truth and help pit bulls in Chicago."

Their foundation's branches, some still in development, include Bick's Pits, Paws for Strength, Chicago Loves Pits and Bullies Against Bullying.