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.
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.
"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
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.''