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    Athlete profile: Pavel Bure

    Posted: Tue February 3, 1998 at 5:00 PM ET

    Athlete information
    NamePavel Bure
    PronouncedPAH-vel boo-RAY
    BirthplaceMoscow, Soviet Union
    ResidenceMoscow, Russia
    Height/Weight5'10", 189
    PositionRight Wing

    Athlete notes

    Groomed to follow his father in the Olympic pool, Pavel and his brother Valeri will instead carry the Bure name on ice...Bure's father Vladimir competed for the Soviet Union in the 1968, 1972, and 1976 Olympics as a swimmer...Vladimir won a bronze medal in the 100m freestyle at Munich, finishing .5 of a second behind American Mark Spitz...Vladimir's athletic success allowed the Bure brothers to grow up in relative privilege in Moscow, and seek their own sports niche..."I had a privileged life," admits Bure. "My father was an Olympic swimmer and he was one of our country's best athletes. He was able to go to other countries and make a little more money than other people around us would. He was really good to me. He took care of me, my brother, and my mother. He inspired me to play sports and dream big"...now a fitness consultant for Bure's NHL team, the Vancouver Canucks, Vladimir had wanted his sons to be a swimmers as well but Pavel had other ideas..."It was always by dream to play hockey," says the elder of Vladimir's two sons. "Yes, this is what my brother and I wanted. To play hockey and win. It was my dream to be part of the national team and win an Olympic medal because my father went to three Games and didn't win a gold. My biggest dream was for me and my brother to go to the Olympics and win a gold for the family"...sharing the same birthday as hockey legend Gordie Howe, Pavel joined the Soviet Red Army junior team when he was six years old, and grew up emulating Red Army legends Valeri Kharlamov and Boris Mikhailov, the latter of whom coached the Russian team at the World Cup...he moved up to the national team when he was only 16...Bure's talent became apparent to the world when he was named top forward at the 1989 World Junior Championships...Bure played on the same line as current Canuck teammate Alexander Mogilny and Sergei Fedorov at that tournament and the three were expected to succeed the great Soviet "KLM" line; Mogilny's defection to the United States in 1989 ended that possibility...the threesome were expected to be reunited for Nagano but Mogilny did not want to play for the Russians and Fedorov was not selected in the midst of an extended NHL holdout...a 1989 Canucks' fourth-round draft choice, Bure was originally ruled ineligible by then-NHL president John Ziegler...the decision was reversed in June 1990 and Bure was reinstated as Canuck property...he arrived in the NHL after buying out his Red Army contract in 1991 for $50,000...he signed with Vancouver on Halloween 1991 and proceeded to win the 1992 Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie...Bure, Fedorov, and Mogilny have been unable to become reunited since then in international competition...now known as the "Russian Rocket," Bure was selected to the Russian team for the 1996 World Cup of Hockey but missed the tournament after suffering a kidney contusion in a collision with Team USA's Brian Leetch in a pre-tournament exhibition game..."I'll be happy to play in the Olympics because last year was really bad for me," says Bure, who after suffering the bruised kidney, missed the last six weeks of last season with a neck injury. "Too many injuries"...it was earlier reported that Bure would seek Canadian citizenship and play for the Maple Leaf, but those allegations, which were incidentally neither confirmed nor denied by Bure, never came to fruition...after a brilliant start to his career -- he followed the Calder Trophy-winning rookie season with back-to-back 60 goal campaigns (only Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy have scored more goals in their first three NHL seasons) -- the Russian Rocket has been grounded by injury ever since...he missed all but the first 15 games of the 1995-96 season after sustaining a torn anterior cruciate ligament when checked by Chicago's Steve Smith in a November game...Bure recovered from the injury that kept him out of the World Cup but promptly hurt his neck in October in a whiplash incident...he played with diminished effectiveness until March, when the pain became unbearable...while many Canuck observers had doubted whether Bure could revert to his form of the early ‘90s, he answered the critics early this season, going on a goal-scoring binge after the Canucks' hired Mike Keenan as their new coach..."When you don't play for one year, you lose a lot of skills and maybe you think you're fine but your body doesn't think so," says Bure, explaining his slow recovery time for the various ailments. "Your body, your hands, your legs are forgetting something and it's not up to you. It's your muscles that forget something"...he gives Keenan much of the credit -- "I'd say the presence of Keenan has affected me a lot," said Bure. "I'm having lots of ice time, the most since I've had since like four years ago when Pat Quinn was coach and I like that"...Bure's fans were especially happy to see his rejuvenation...he became the most popular figure in Vancouver after helping lead the Cinderella Canucks to the 1994 Stanley Cup finals, in which they lost to the Keenan-led New York Rangers in seven games...former teammate Geoff Courtnall once said, "He's God in Vancouver"..."It's coming with the job," says Pavel of the adulation he receives on Canada's Pacific Coast. It feels like everybody knows me here, no matter how old, 70 years old or 10 or 5. Most of them are nice people and very polite. They just come up to you and say, ‘Good luck' or if things are going right, they say, ‘You are playing well'"...while busy playing hockey on this continent, Bure has also tried to revive a tradition in his native Russia...he is the vice-president of the Twenty-First Century Association, a non-profit company based in Moscow that is working to resurrect his ancestors' celebrated watch-making business...Pavel's great-grandfather Pavel Bure was the last of the famous Bures whose company made precious watches for Russian czars from 1815...the dynasty's founder, Swiss Eduard Bure, is said to have been the first to attach a tiny strap to a watch so it cold be worn on the hand...members of the Russian royal family always wore Bure watches and used them as awards for services to the crown..."Bure has a strong personality, a sense of history, and a self-made fortune made on ice," says association president Anzori Kikalishvili, who was alleged to have connections with the Russian mafia. "It's marvelous that he is investing his hard-earned money into restoring the old Russian trademark"...Bure, who in contrast to his reserved personality does prefer a jet-setting lifestyle, frequently visits New York and Los Angeles...he owns a Mercedes and a red Ferrari...Bure and his close friend, Vancouver tough guy teammate Gino Odjick joined singer Bryan Adams on stage to sing the popular tune "Cuts Like a Knife" in September 1995, though Pavel claims to not know any of the song's words...he married an American woman known only as "Jymi" in the early ‘90s, apparently in a green-card arrangement, but later divorced her...he lives with girlfriend and former model Dahn Bryan...a framed picture of the 1972 Olympic medal winners, including Vladimir Bure and Spitz, hangs in Pavel's living room...it is signed by Spitz: "To Pavel, a man who skates faster than his father swims"...

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