Mark Thursday, July 8th on your calendar, and try to stay in town. Otherwise you’ll miss seeing the grandest sports trophy in Canada as it visits Orono courtesy of Bryan Bickell.
Orono has a tradition of celebrating its sports heroes by parading them down Main Street atop the old Bickle fire truck. Next week, the tradition continues, as family, friends, and fans from near and far, gather to celebrate the accomplishments of Bickell, an Orono native and member of the National Hockey League’s 2010 Stanley Cup winning team, the Chicago Blackhawks.
It seems fair to say that the 24-year-old Bickell surpassed all other hockey players in the history of Orono when he played four playoff games for the Chicago Blackhawks in their run up to the Stanley Cup win this year. Winning the Stanley Cup surely qualifies as the highest achievement in professional hockey.
“I hope there are more [Stanley Cup winners from Orono] to come,” said Bickell, speaking by phone with his family in Orono on Monday evening, just after the parade details were finalized at Clarington Council. “It feels really great to bring the Cup to Orono, for all my family and friends that I played with, and for everyone who supported my hockey career, and helped me get this far, I couldn’t have made it without them. And I want to have some fun with it too.”
“We couldn’t be prouder of him,” said his sister Ashley Bickell, speaking on behalf of her parents, Bill and Ann Bickell. The immediate family and Bryan’s girlfriend will all be joining Bryan on the fire truck for the parade.
Clarington Council is also expressing its pride in Bickell, proclaiming July 8th, 2010 as “Bryan Bickell Day,” “to recognize the accomplishments of a young man who is living the dream that has been shared by many Canadian kids – winning the Stanley Cup.”
The parade will commence at 4 pm on Mill Street (in front of the cemetery), move onto Main Street and turn onto Princess Street, proceeding to the Orono Arena. Bryan has requested that anyone attending the event please bring a non-perishable food item for the local food bank. Cash donations will also be accepted.
At the arena, Bryan and the Stanley Cup will be on hand for photos and autographs. Pre-signed 8”x10” photos of Bickell will be sold for $10 each to raise money for the Orono Amateur Athletic Association, according to Ashley Bickell. The event will run until 7:30 pm.
The turn-out may number in the thousands, as the event is sure to draw people from the Oshawa, Port Hope, Cobourg, and Peterborough areas. “It’s been getting crazy,” said Bickell, about all the excitement over his plans to bring the Stanley Cup to Orono. It is also a dream, come true. “One day I was hoping to do it, to bring the Stanley Cup home. I’m just lucky it happened so early.”
“This will be the shortest summer I’ve ever had,” noted Bickell. With the Finals going into June, and the celebrations barely begun, Bickell may have little time to relax before he faces training camp in mid-September. But he’s not complaining, since he plans to get in some fishing, even in this shortened season.
Bickell, who will get the Cup for approximately 24 hours on July 8th, said he has plans to take the Cup out fishing early in the day, before all of the hoopla starts. “That’s a must for me,” he said. “Fishing is a big thing for me in the off-season. I enjoy it a lot. So I want to go fishing with Lord Stanley.”
The six-foot-four, 223-pound left-shooting forward will have to wait until July 1st at noon for the start of the free agency period to learn if he is staying with the Blackhawks. “Nothing is certain,” said Bickell. “I will see. I don’t know 100 percent, but I hope they’re going to keep me.”
Bickell grew up in Orono, playing minor hockey for the Leafs rep program. Then he played AAA for the Central Ontario Wolves organization. He was a member of the Bantam All-Ontario champion Toronto Red Wings of the GTHL before being drafted in 2002 by the OHL’s Ottawa 67s. His final year in the OHL was with the Windsor Spitfires.
He was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. In 2010, Bickell played 16 regular-season games with the Hawks, contributing 3 goals and 1 assist. He was called up from the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs to the Hawks on an “as needed” basis during the playoffs, playing four games during the first and second round of the playoffs, and contributing one assist.
Orono has a proud history of hockey achievements, which includes Clarington Sports Hall of Fame members the Orono Orphans hockey club, and local residents Steve West, and his daughter Sommer West.
Steve West played professional hockey in the 1970’s for the Winnipeg Jets and the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association. Sommer West was a member of the 1999 Canadian National Women’s Hockey Team, and a member of the National Women’s Hockey League, winning the NWHL Championship in four consecutive years.
The tradition of parading players on the Orono Firefighter’s 1933 Canadian-made Chevrolet/Bickle fire truck seems to have originated with the 1948-49 Ontario Junior “D” Orono Orphans, who were met by the fire pumper and the Orono Band for a victory parade upon returning to town after winning the championship game. The hockey club included Dean, Junior and Raye West, Gus Pollard, Don Mercer, and Gerald Robinson, among others, and later, with some of the same members, went on to win the 1959-60 Intermediate “C” Championship.
The Caruana brothers have also contributed to Orono’s proud hockey tradition, with both starting as Bowmanville Eagles of the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League. Matt Caruana went on to play for Niagara University, and now plays for the American Hockey League’s Portland Pirates. Justin Caruana went on to play with the Ontario Hockey League’s Peterborough Petes, before joining Carleton University’s hockey team. Both continue to make Orono proud with their hockey skills.
The theme of the parade is “a celebration of sports,” according to a municipal media advisory. Any groups or organizations interested in participating in the parade should contact David Staples at 289-385-8985.