Valeri Bure aims to maintain All-Star form

Originally published on in 2000

By Lucas Aykroyd

You’d expect Valeri Bure to be in the best of moods after returning from an NHL All-Star Game weekend in Toronto that saw him pair with brother Pavel to nab MVP honors for the Russian Rocket.

But instead, Bure the Younger admitted he had a bit of a headache. Literally and philosophically. This came after his Calgary Flames dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Vancouver Canucks at GM Place on 9 February, a game where Bure got clipped by a puck and missed the end of the second period.

“I feel all right,” Bure told EuroReport. “But the referees have really got to open their eyes. I took an elbow and my helmet came off, and that’s the reason why I got a puck right in the back of my head and there was nothing to protect it. It’s pretty disappointing. They’ve got two referees and they’ve got to make the right calls.”

The 25-year-old Moscow-born winger has been making the right calls in the offensive zone all season. His 53 points in 54 games lead the Flames and rank him eighth overall in the league scoring derby. While 1998-99 saw Bure start to emerge as an offensive leader (26-27-53), this season marks the first time the diminutive blonde speedster has approached the glory of his junior career with the Spokane Chiefs, where he enjoyed a 147-point campaign in 1992-93.

He isn’t getting full of himself, though. Asked whether it was tough to settle down and play in a regular season game after skating with superstars, Bure said: “No, not all. I know how important every game is, and coming back from the high, you just hope it’ll carry over into the regular season.”

Bure admits to being his older brother’s biggest fan, and Pavel provided all the inspiration Valeri could want in Toronto. Not that Valeri plans to copy his more famous sibling. The two play different styles. Pavel’s aggressive, Guy Lafleur-style charges up the middle contrast with Valeri’s tendency to dart in late. They have dissimilar physiques, too. Although official NHL records indicate they’re both 5-10 and Pavel weighs just five pounds more than Valeri, Pavel’s massive leg strength gives his game a dimension of power that Valeri will never match.

But the bottom line is, they’re brothers.

“Spending a couple of days with my family this weekend was the best,” Valeri said with a grin. He meant the opportunity to visit with Pavel and his mother Tatiana, but the media has been quick to note Valeri’s family in Calgary is about to expand. Valeri’s wife, TV actress Candace Cameron-Bure, will reportedly give birth to the couple’s second child around 20 February.

In hockey circles, having the name “Bure” affords you about as much privacy as “Lennon” does in the music world. Throughout the All-Star Weekend, Canadian newspapers pumped out stories on the split between Pavel and Valeri and their father, former Olympic swimmer and hard-nosed trainer Vladimir Bure. The two brothers haven’t spoken with their father since fall 1998 for undisclosed reasons.

“No question someday it will be resolved,” Bure said. “You don’t wish anybody would bring it up in the paper or wherever it might be. But every family has its ups and downs.”

His personal “up” looks like it should last for a while. His gift for scoring big goals has surfaced again. Last year he tallied the winner in each of Calgary’s four victories toward the end of March, and this season he’s already bettered that mark with five game-winners.

“I think I’m understanding the game better and learning how the league works,” Bure said. “And Brian Sutter has been a big help to me.”

Sutter’s extension of more ice time to Bure since Theoren Fleury left Calgary last year has been a major factor. “A lot of minutes went up for grabs, and I saw the opportunity,” said Bure. “I’ve been one of the guys who jumped on it.”

Hockey-wise, only two clouds darken Bure’s landscape these days. First, the future of the Calgary franchise remains murky after the Canadian federal government backed off from proposed subsidies for the small-market teams. Bure knows it’s tough for community-owned teams like Calgary and Edmonton to make a go of it compared to conglomerate powerhouses like the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings.

“I hope the government makes a commitment,” he told EuroReport. “But it’s a business and we’ll see what happens.”

Second, Calgary’s road record (8-18-2) hasn’t kept pace with its stellar performance at home (15-7-4). The Flames have got to start winning away from the Saddledome if they hope to climb out of 10th place in the West before April.

But Valeri Bure refuses to get moody about his team’s playoff hopes.

“We’ve been working hard in the practices. We’re in pretty good shape. Our game is to keep hitting and skating, staying on top of the other guys. If we can keep doing that, we’re going to be OK. Digg it Furl iFeedReaders Netscape RawSugar reddit StumbleUpon Yahoo MyWeb YardBarker

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