Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 2010, 10

Bryan Bickell and his girlfriend Amanda along with their two dogs posing for a photo with the Stanley Cup  at his cottage just south of Peterborough.
Bryan Bickell and his girlfriend Amanda along with their two dogs posing for a photo with the Stanley Cup at his cottage just south of Peterborough. (Walt Neubrand/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The quiet town of Orono, Ontario is part of the Municipality of Clarington, not quite an hour east of Toronto. The town has a rich tradition in growing wonderful products, including vegetables and fruits, evergreens (from 1922 until 1996, the Orono Forestry Station produced millions of seedlings) and hockey players. And while the best-known hockey players from Orono to this point all had the surname of West (Steve West starred in the World Hockey Association, his father and uncles played on the Orono Orphans, the 1948-49 Ontario Junior 'D' champions and 1959-60 Ontario Intermediate 'C' champions, and Steve's daughter Sommer has played for Team Canada's Under-18 and Under-22 hockey teams), there is a new hockey hero in town, and he goes by the name of Bryan Bickell.

Twenty-five years after Chicago's last Stanley Cup victory, Bryan Bickell came into this world, and was raised in Orono, the town of 2,000. "I lived here until I was 16, so to bring the Stanley Cup back here to the people who have supported me through my whole hockey family is a great opportunity to celebrate with them," Bickell said. "It means a lot, being from Orono, living in Orono and playing for Orono."

Bryan Bickell fishing on the Otonabee River with his girlfriend Amanda and the Stanley Cup.
Bryan Bickell fishing on the Otonabee River with his girlfriend Amanda and the Stanley Cup. (Walt Neubrand/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Bickell left home to play junior with the Ottawa 67s and the Windsor Spitfires, and was then drafted by Chicago in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. On April 5, 2007, Bryan was summoned to the Hawks and scored a goal in his first NHL contest, a 3-2 win over Detroit. He played a handful of games with Chicago in 2006-07 and 2007-08, and then joined the big club for 16 regular season games this season, as well as 4 games in the post-season.

With minutes left in the third period and Chicago up 3-3 in Game Six of the Stanley Cup final, the Blackhawks' management instructed players not dressed to pull on their equipment so they could join the on-ice celebration. "They had us put our gear on with five minutes left," said Bickell, the big Chicago winger. But then, with 3:59 remaining in regulation time, the Flyers scored to tie the game. Bryan chuckled, recalling, "We had to go hide in the corner between the third and overtime."

Patrick Kane ensured that Bickell and the boys didn't need to shed their equipment when he scored at 4:06 of overtime to earn the Stanley Cup championship for Chicago.

On Thursday, July 8, Bryan Bickell enjoyed his day with the Stanley Cup, greeting the trophy at his cottage, just south of Peterborough, at 8:00AM. Bryan loves to fish, and decided to take the Stanley Cup, wearing a lifejacket, out onto the Otonabee River in order to drown a few worms. "I want to be the first to put a fish in the Cup," explained Bryan. He and his girlfriend Amanda went out first, and in spite of his desperation to land a fish, he was unsuccessful. But Amanda was, catching a small bass.

Bryan Bickell and the Stanley Cup took part in a parade throughout the streets of Orono, ON.
Bryan Bickell and the Stanley Cup took part in a parade throughout the streets of Orono, ON.
(Walt Neubrand/Hockey Hall of Fame)
"Oh, come on," he laughed when teased, "I gave her the better lures." Bryan took another group out next, including his Dad, Bill. They, too, were unsuccessful. Yet another group went out with Bryan, but they, too, were unsuccessful. The only catch made all day was Amanda's, and the silver-scaled beauty fit perfectly in the bowl of Lord Stanley's fishing bucket.

The Cup was taken to the Bickell home in Orono, where Bryan's parents, Bill and Anne, helped their son host a lunch for about 350 people, who nibbled on sandwiches, fruit and vegetables while Bryan stood in the backyard and had his picture taken with everybody at the party.

A customized school bus took Bryan, his family and friends first to the local Co-op and then on to a parade the town had planned for him. Bryan and Amanda climbed aboard an antique firetruck, ironically, a Bickle Pumper, manufactured in 1933.

Under the scorching kind of day usually reserved for buzzards in Death Valley, Bryan was paraded through the town for 45 minutes, joined in the parade by several vintage cars and tractors, the Clarington Girls Hockey Association, the OMHA juvenile champion Orono Leafs, members of the afore-mentioned Orono Orphans as well as marching bands.

An emotional Bryan Bickell sharing a moment with the Stanley Cup at the Orono Arena.
An emotional Bryan Bickell sharing a moment with the Stanley Cup at the Orono Arena. (Walt Neubrand/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Bryan grew quite emotional during the parade, and while he might explain the moisture dripping from his cheeks as perspiration, others recognized tears of joy at the rally of support in the young champion's hometown.

The parade concluded at the Orono Fairgrounds, and Bickell carried the Stanley Cup into the adjacent Orono Arena, where photos and trophies of local heroes reminded locals of the region's hockey legacy. Clarington mayor Jim Abernethy declared July 8, 2010 'Bryan Bickell Day' in the municipality, and presented Bryan with framed letters from Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper and Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty. Bickell was also made an honourary firefighter, and was only mildly disappointed to learn that Clarington did not have a firepole he could slide down.

Bryan responded with a short speech of appreciation. "It is a great honour," he said. "I can't believe how many people turned out. The weather was hot, but it was the best thing ever!" He then took the Stanley Cup from section to section, greeting the minor league teams and other fans who waited in the heat to congratulate their local hero. Bickell then signed photos for any and all, with donations split between the Orono Athletic Association and the local food bank.

The big forward had more planned for his day. In a rented bus, he and a group of friends and family took the Stanley Cup to Peterborough, visiting a bar called The Trasheteria. Welcomed by about a thousand in the bar, with a portion of the admission donated to the Peterborough Humane Society, Bryan took the Cup upstairs to a V.I.P. area called the Blue Room, where his party had pictures taken with the iconic trophy. Bryan later filled the bowl with beer and poured the liquid out of the Cup in celebration for his friends. The combination of heat and excitement forced that legendary bowl to be filled over and over again.

It was quite a celebration; one that neither Bryan, nor Orono, will soon forget!

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Nick Boynton poses for a photo with the Stanley Cup in front of the Boynton Bros. Sod sign in Nobleton, ON.
Nick Boynton poses for a photo with the Stanley Cup in front of the Boynton Bros. Sod sign in Nobleton, ON.
(Walt Neubrand/Hockey Hall of Fame)
On July 9, the Stanley Cup travelled from Clarington to Nobleton and from the blazing heat to showers as it spent the day with Nick Boynton.

Nick is not new to championships, having captained the Ottawa 67s when they collected the Memorial Cup in 1999. That team, by the way, also featured teammate Bryan Campbell, who was Boynton's defence partner.

In 1997, Nick had been drafted by the Washington Capitals, but re-entered the draft in 1999 and was plucked by the Boston Bruins, joining the team that fall. Boynton played six seasons with the Bruins (interrupted by a season playing in England during the NHL lock-out), and then gained journeyman status, joining the Phoenix Coyotes in 2006-07 and 2007-08 and the Florida Panthers in 2008-09. Nick started the 2009-10 season in Anaheim, but was traded to the Hawks for future considerations on March 2, 2010. Chicago was looking for veteran blueline presence, and when Bryan Campbell was injured, Boynton stepped into the line-up. He played 7 games during the regular season, and then was added to the roster during the final, playing the final three games of the season, Games 4, 5 and 6.

Nick Boynton and family at the Boynton Bros. Sod Farm in Nobleton, ON.
Nick Boynton and family at the Boynton Bros. Sod Farm in Nobleton, ON. (Walt Neubrand/Hockey Hall of Fame)
The Stanley Cup arrived at the Boynton Brothers Sod Farms on Highway 27 in Nobleton at 9AM on July 9. Nick and his family had cleared much of the barn and had a photographer take a series of photos of the Cup on various pieces of machinery. Meanwhile, several friends stopped by to congratulate Nick, and they, too, got pictures taken with the Cup.

By early afternoon, Nick hopped into one of his vintage cars and took the Stanley Cup to the Dr. William Laceby Nobleton Arena and Community Centre, named after a local dentist who had contributed much to the community. There, Mayor Margaret Black hosted a reception in Boynton's honour, and began by stating that Nick was "an inspiration to all athletes and has made our community very proud." Other speakers included Paul Calandra, Member of Parliament for Oak Ridges-Markham, and Helena Jaczek, the Member of Provincial Parliament for Oak Ridges-Markham. Executives from the NobleKing Minor Hockey Association recalled with pride how Nick had played his minor hockey with Nobleton minor hockey before joining the Peewee Triple 'A' Richmond Hill-Vaughan Kings.

Nick Boynton celebrated with family and 200 friends at the Boynton Bros. Sod Farm in Nobleton, ON.
Nick Boynton celebrated with family and 200 friends at the Boynton Bros. Sod Farm in Nobleton, ON.
(Walt Neubrand/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Nick made a brief speech in response to the accolades, then from 2:30 to 4:45, stood for photographs and signed autographed for many of the 3,000 in attendance.

Nick Boynton is a unique hockey warrior. Diagnosed as diabetic at 19, Nick carries a device attached around his waist that pumps measured amounts of insulin into his body through a catheter under his skin. This pump allows his body to function just like anyone else. The Chicago trainers also monitor Nick carefully. During the celebration, some young boys approached Nick and told him he was their hero because he proved to them that diabetics can function normally, if not carefully, even as hockey players. "It never really stopped me from doing anything," he shrugged and smiled.

Back at the sod farm, a pig roast was underway, with 200 friends feasting on pork sandwiches, salads, fruits, vegetables and a Stanley Cup cake. Pigman, the farm's mascot (and in reality, Nick's brother) shows up to all the pig roasts, and this special occasion was no exception. The rubber-masked pig with a cigar in its mouth had its picture (or is that 'pig-ture'?) taken with hockey's heralded trophy.

A life-sized cardboard cut-out of 'The Most Interesting Man in the World' ("Stay thirsty, my friends!") also had his picture taken with the Cup, donning, at various times, a Blackhawks' jersey and a Boynton Brothers Sod Farm ball cap.

The Stanley Cup was uniquely displayed amidst the sod with a hockey net and corn stalks completing the picture.

Nick Boynton celebrating with a drink from the Stanley Cup during a pig roast at the family sod farm.   Nick Boynton's day with the Stanley Cup comes to an end.
Nick Boynton celebrating with a drink from the Stanley Cup during a pig roast at the family sod farm.
(Walt Neubrand/Hockey Hall of Fame)
  Nick Boynton's day with the Stanley Cup comes to an end. (Walt Neubrand/Hockey Hall of Fame)

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Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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