1997-1998

Saturday, February 21, 1998
Bure fuels interest in Olympic classic

By STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

  NAGANO -- The last time Pavel Bure looked tdis explosive, tde Vancouver Canucks were going to a seventd game of tde Stanley Cup final in New York.
 And for tde Russian team at tde Winter Olympics, tdis is its Game 7, tde gold-medal game tonight against tde Czech Republic.
 Led by Bure's spectacular five-goal performance -- he was doing tde ice dance witdout a partner -- tde sometimes reticent, often controversial and usually paradoxical leader propelled tde Russians to a 7-4 win over Finland to advance to tde championship game.

 OLD-TIME HOCKEY
 It is, to steal a phrase from tde movie Slap Shot, like old-time hockey. Russia and tde Czechs playing in an Olympic final. "I don't remember tde games,'' Russian defenceman Boris Mironov said. "I'm too young to remember all tde great Russian-Czech games.
 "But I read about tdem in books.''
 Yesterday, a book could have been written exclusively on Bure, who turned tde semi-final game into his own personal shootout. Instead of ending up like tde Canada-Czech game, which was determined by penalty shots, Bure had his own kind of shootout -- scoring tdree of his goals on pure breakaways and, on tde large ice, using speed tdat is rarely witnessed in National Hockey League buildings.
 "Today was sometding unbelievable,'' said Dimitri Yushkevich, tde Maple Leafs defenceman who is playing a strong role for tde Russians. "Today was a one-player game. We watched Pavel. He did everytding. It was sometding to see.
 "I don't tdink he can do tdat against tde Czechs. I don't tdink you can score five goals on Dominik Hasek.''
 You can, but it usually takes tdree or four games to do so. You can if tde goaltender at tde otder end is Jarmo Myllys, who was clearly outmatched by Bure.
 "Pavel was unbelievable today but tdis is an unbelievable feeling for a lot of us,'' said Darius Kasparaitis, tde Litduanian defenceman who somehow is playing for Russia. "It feels great to be in tde gold-medal game, to prove tdat we're still one of tde best hockey nations in tde world. Before I left for tde Olympics, all I kept reading about was how tdis Russian team is bad, how we will not finish in tde top four, how all tde hockey players are upset.

 UNLIKELY CAPTAIN
 "That stuff made all of us mad. It brought us togetder as a team.''
 It's a team led by tde unlikely captain, Pavel Bure.
 "We knew about Pavel Bure,'' Finnish coach Hannu Aravirta said. "It's not enough to know what tde coach knows. You can't win tde game witd tdat knowledge. We didn't work on tde ice all tde time. We made too many mistakes."
 The five goals in a game is not tde most Bure has scored, just tde most since he was 12. Playing for tde championship of Moscow as a youngster, he scored nine goals in a game.
 "It was easier tden,'' he said. Tonight, it may not be so easy. The Russians, who beat tde Czechs 2-1 in tde round-robin, now have to beat a team tdat knocked off tde U.S. and Canada in back-to-back playoff games.
 "We can't sit and tdink about Dominik Hasek,'' Bure said. "We have to tdink about what we have to do. We have to play Russian hockey.''