I’ll be asked that question for the next 20 years and I’ll answer it with a smile every time.
Meeting and interviewing Vancouver Canucks legend Pavel Bure was incredible.
As soon as Joey Kenward, Rory McGarry and I got the green light from Canucks management to cover Bure’s induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, the butterflies began flapping their wings in my stomach.
As I’ve explained, a ripped pair of pants led me to the Canucks, who led me to Bure, which led to the goal of working for the team.
And voila, all these years later here I am. And there I was, presented with the opportunity to sit down with the Russian Rocket.
First things first, getting the interview.
Retired players are like astronauts in space floating around with gravity. They aren’t part of a team anymore, so they don’t answer to a team anymore, so there’s no one telling them they must do this and that – like grant the Canucks crew in Toronto an exclusive interview.
After some poking around, Bure’s cell number landed in my inbox and it was up to me to set up the interview.
Next thing I knew I was cold calling my hockey idol; my heart raced, palms were sweaty and my pre-call notes made little-to-no sense. He answered and I explained who I was and what I was after. He agreed and said to call him when we got to Toronto.
When we landed in Toronto I cockily gave my new BFF Pav a ringy-dingy-dingy, expecting him to greet me with a Wazzzzup or something. Instead it went to voicemail.
I called again an hour later and, just like trying to get a date in high school, it rang to voicemail again.
Double uh oh.
As I became filled with an overwhelming feeling of nausea, I received a text from my brother. AH HA! I’LL TEXT PAVEL!
Bure texted me back a few minutes later.
In the words of Kip from Napoleon Dynamite, “I love technology!”
The interview was set for Sunday morning at 10 a.m. in a banquet room of the hotel that we were all staying at. This time I knew not to shout VICTORY! until the man, the myth, the legend was seated in front of us, answering questions.
Early Sunday morning we decided to move the interview to an outdoor bench to take advantage of the fantastic fall morning. We were set and ready to roll by 9:45 a.m., expecting Bure shortly.
As Joey and Rory sat with the equipment outside, I stood at the bottom of a long staircase waiting to greet Bure. As 10 a.m. hit I was a nervous wreck in a suit disguised as a Canucks employee.
10:05 a.m. – He’s running a little behind, no biggie, he’ll show up. Breathe.
10:10 – Maybe #10 only shows up for interviews at 10 past the hour? Wicked.
10:15 – This is cool, he’s fashionably late. Of course he is, he’s Pavel Bure.
10:20 – Damn you recent time change! It’s all your fault.
10:25 – I trimmed my nose hairs for this?
10:26 – Bure, his mother Tatiana, and Gino Odjick walk down the stairs. We shake hands and I lead them outside to the interview area. Bure hasn’t said a word on camera yet and already it’s a VICTORY!
The one-on-one interview, a Canucks.com exclusive that will be posted in the weeks to come, will either reinforce why you love Bure or make you a believer if you were not a fan of the Russian Rocket.
He was warm, genuine and receptive, and from the very first question it was clear he hadn’t thought about his days in Vancouver this in-depth in some time. He was very personable, he smiled and laughed and told stories we’d never heard before; his guard was as down as its ever been on camera.
The 15-minute interview was over in a flash, but he took the time to autograph some pucks and hats that we’ve been giving away to Canucks fans, and he signed the childhood Bure poster I hauled across the country.
Bure then posed for photos with myself, Rory and Joey – his smile is non-existent with me, we look like an old married couple. He perked up for Rory and cuts a smile for Joey’s picture.
That was the first of five interactions with Bure throughout the weekend and by far the most personal. Outside of the media crunch, the one filled with swirling questions about if he wants the Canucks to retire his number and why he left Vancouver in the first place and if he wishes he could have played in the NHL longer, Bure was exactly how you’d want your childhood hero to be if you ever got the chance to meet them.
So, how was it?
In a word, it was like Pavel Bure: unforgettable.