It is the question on everybody’s mind: will the Stanley Cup really come to Orono?
“That’s what everyone wants to know,” says Ashley Bickell. “And all we can say right now is that we don’t know.” Ashley is the natural person in town to ask. And she says everyone is asking her the same question. Will brother Bryan really be able to bring the Cup to Orono, and if so, when?
Ashley is the sister of Bryan Bickell, an Orono native drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He was called up from the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs to play for the Hawks on an “as needed” basis during the team’s playoff run up to becoming the 2010 Stanley Cup Champions.
In an earlier interview with the Orono Times, when the Hawks were in San Jose for the semi-final round of the playoffs, Bickell promised he would bring the Cup to Orono if the Hawks made it to the finals and won.
He also promised his father, Bill, that if the team made it to the finals, he would bring the whole family to see one of the games. And, according to Ashley, Bryan made good on that promise, bringing her, their father, and their mother, Ann, to see the first two games of the Finals in Chicago.
The Blackhawks won those first two home games against the Philadelphia Flyers, 6-5 and 2-1. But the Flyers battled back to take the next two games 4-3 (in overtime) and 5-3. Then Chicago took the next game 7-4, and – tasting victory – clinched it in Philadelphia in game six, with a score of 4-3, scoring the game-winning goal in overtime.
Now, as the Cup is about to make its traditional summer journey from one Stanley Cup Champion’s hometown to the next, everyone here in Bickell’s hometown is wondering if it will really come to Orono. According to Ashley, there is no rule or requirement that a player must fulfill in order to be able to take the Cup home for a visit.
A team member doesn’t have to have played a certain number of regular season games (Bickell played 16 regular season games with the Hawks, contributing 3 goals and 1 assist). Nor does a player have to play a certain number of playoff games (Bickell played four games, with 1 assist during the first and second round of the playoffs,). Nor does he have to have played in the final game (while Bickell skated for practice, he did not get a chance to play in the Finals).
“He got to hoist the Cup,” confirms Ashley. “He was the last person who got to hold the Cup [on the ice at the Wachovia Center last Wednesday evening in Philadelphia].”
It is, says Ashley, ultimately up to the team to decide whether every last member gets a chance to bring the Cup home. “The team has to do up a schedule,” she says. “So we just don’t know yet. But if he gets a chance, he will definitely bring the Cup here to Orono.”
Of course, at the moment, the Champions and the Cup are in high demand, with the top players making guest appearances on late night television shows and daytime programs as well. So it may be a few weeks before a schedule of the Cup’s journey is finalized.
Ashley says they should know by the trade deadline, July 6th, at the latest. Perhaps that is fitting. Bickell will be awaiting news of his fate, learning whether or not he will remain with the Blackhawks, be traded to another team, or become a free agent on July 6th. With the league’s salary cap in mind, the Hawks are bound to make some changes to the team. Whether Bickell is part of that change or not may have a lot to do with whether he gets a chance to share the Cup with his hometown.
In the meanwhile, Ashley says her brother is back in Peterborough, where he now makes his home, and that he is looking forward to doing some fishing. Most of us would agree he has earned a little time off. And whether the Cup comes to Orono or not, most folks around here are just plain proud of this native son and the part he played in Chicago’s victory. Congratulations Bryan Bickell!