Writer Mike Beamish remembers the first few days of freedom for the Bure family, impatiently waiting for contract negotiations with the Canucks to unfold.
With the permission of Bure’s agent, Ron Salcer, I had flown to Los Angeles to spend the day with Vlad and his boys as they waited out their days in limbo. That morning, I met them at a rink in Culver City, used by the Los Angeles Kings as their practice ice, where Vladimir was putting his boys through their paces in a cone drill. Vlad was wearing gum boots. He didn’t know how to skate. Ironically, his oldest son, Pavel, the budding hockey superstar, hated swimming.
They took shots on a 22-year-old female practice goalie, Shawn Barfield, who spoke of the rigorous training Vladimir put them through — and the boys accepted because “they want to make their father proud of them.”
Beamish has much more.
It was Russian sportswriter Igor Kuperman who really helped the Canucks land Bure in the 1989 NHL draft:
When the Canucks laid claim to Bure in the sixth round of the 1989 entry draft, there were howls of protest from other clubs who claimed he had not played the required number of games in the Soviet elite league to be eligible.
According to the NHL’s records, Bure had skated in only five games, not the 11 needed to place his name in the draft.
But the league’s intel was incorrect.
Kuperman, then living in Moscow, was recruited by Igor Larionov — who joined the Canucks the year Bure was drafted — to substantiate the claim.
Here's the full story, including the important role Boris Mikhailov played in all of this.
Of course, Bure's demands to leave Vancouver remain controversial to this day. One of Bure's early interpreters, Beth Novokshonoff, says it was all due to the fishbowl lifestyle in a small city.
It got so bad, said Novokshonoff, that when Bure was living in his posh home on a walled property on Southwest Marine Drive in the latter part of his tenure in Vancouver, fans would sometimes scale the wall and knock on his window hoping to meet the Russian Rocket.
She believes he was much more comfortable in Florida and, later, New York, where he could walk the streets and not be bothered.
“There really was no privacy,” she said. “And Pavel was a really private person.”
Here's the full story.