Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell has become a prominent figure during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, taking on a key offensive role for a team seeking to win its second championship in four seasons.
Bickell, 27, has scored eight goals over the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- one fewer than he had in 48 regular season games. In the Western Conference Final, Bickell scored goals in three consecutive games, then added a pair of assists in the clinching Game 5 win over the Los Angeles Kings.
Bickell has been gracious enough to agree to keep a player blog that will appear on NHL.com throughout the Stanley Cup Final.
In his first installment, Bickell talks about how his recent celebrity has cast attention on his family and hometown, as well as what he's doing to prepare for Game 2 of the Cup Final against the Boston Bruins on Saturday.
CHICAGO -- This postseason has obviously been quite surreal, but while I'm getting ready to play in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final -- a major wow in and of itself -- my parents, Bill and Anne, are preparing to host a camera crew from Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday.
I grew up in the town of Orono, Ont., with a population of about 600 people, and most of them are die-hard hockey fans. They support me. I think they're proud of me. When we won the Stanley Cup in 2010, I brought it back there, had a parade and tried to raise some money for local youth sports.
But now CBC's Hockey Night in Canada is coming to my hometown to profile what life was like for me growing up and to profile my parents. It's just so cool to have something like that happen to me and my parents. Orono is where I grew up watching hockey, learning about hockey, watching Hockey Night in Canada, and now to have them come into the town to do a piece on me and my family is fantastic.
I know my dad is so excited. He's preparing a barbecue and I'm sure he'll take them down to the basement to show them the shrine.
What's the shrine?
Well, you know how parents are when they get all excited and proud of their kids and their accomplishments. My dad is the same way. He has pictures of me as a kid playing hockey, the jersey I wore when I got drafted here in Chicago back in 2004, pictures of me scoring my first goal -- all of it.
He loves it and now I'm sure he'll show it all to the cameras as well. He's stoked about it.
The other thing I want people to see is how hard-working my parents are now and were for me as a kid. They did everything they could to put me through hockey. My mom manages a diesel garage in Bowmanville, Ont., and my dad is recently retired, but he used to be a heavy equipment operator in the municipality of Clarington.
They're hard-working people and they helped get me to where I am. Now it's all about giving back to them because they've done so much for me.
As for what I can do now here in Chicago, I'll probably relax this afternoon, take the dogs for a walk, watch some sports and go out for sushi tonight with my fiancée, Amanda, and some close friends of ours.
The sushi dinner before a game is something I started to do in the playoffs and it's working, so I'm not going to stop it now. I took Kaner [Patrick Kane] with me before Game 4 in Los Angeles and he scored, so he went again before Game 5 and then he scored a hat trick. I'm sure he'll find a way to get some tonight as well.
It should be a good day, but Game 2 is on my mind.
I don't think I have ever been as nervous as I was before Game 1, but that went away after a few shifts and it was just about playing a hockey game. But you do realize where you are. This is the Stanley Cup Final. Guys like Michal Handzus and Michal Rozsival, they're veterans and this is their first time in the Cup Final. This doesn't happen often.