Bryan Bickell entered the Hurricanes’ locker room Friday at Raleigh Center Ice to find the television tuned to the Chicago Cubs victory parade.
Bickell knows about big sports celebrations in Chicago. He’s been in a few.
“But I can’t imagine what it’s like right now,” he said, his eyes on the TV.
Bickell was a member of the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks team that won the Stanley Cup, the first for Chicago since 1961. That was a big deal. The Blackhawks added Cups in 2013 and again in 2015 as Bickell collected another two championship rings.
But this was the beloved Cubbies. Their last World Series championship came in 1908. Beating the Cleveland Indians, rallying from a 3-1 deficit in the Series, has made for 24/7 partying in Chicago and brought millions streaming into the Chicago streets Friday.
“I’ve heard schools were cancelled so they could attend the parade through the city and the region,” Bickell said. “I could imagine there will be, easily, five million people there today.
“We had a lot, too. I’m pretty sure we set the championship high for population at the parade with a couple of million. I would think they’ll easily pass that today.”
Chicago officials said about two million people were at the 2015 Blackhawks parade and celebration at Soldier Field, where Blackhawks forwards Joakim Nordstrom and Kris Versteeg joined together to belt out Macklemore’s “And We Danced.” A few months later, both were traded to the Canes.
Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen, a member of the Blackhawks’ 2015 champs, were obtained by the Canes last June after another trade with Chicago.
Bickell said he attended several Cubs games while playing in Chicago and took batting practice at Wrigley Field a few times. One friend on the team, he said, was first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
“It was nice seeing him win,” Bickell said. “He’s become a big part of the leadership. From him getting traded to Cubs (in 2012) and seeing where he came from, to where he is now, is remarkable.
“And to see what the Cubs did, to come back from 3-1 in the Series, that’s awesome.”
So was the celebration.