BANKS, Kerry

Author Tags: Sports

Kerry Banks has published more than a dozen books about sports, including a biography of Pavel Bure and numerous trivia-style books with Don Weekes.

The Best and Worst of Hockey Firsts: The Unofficial Guide; with Don Weekes. (Greystone, 2003).

The Unofficial Guide to Even More of Hockey's Most Unusual Records; with Don Weekes. (Greystone, 2004)

The Unoffcial Guide to Basketball's Nastiest and Most Unusual Records. (Greystone, 2005)

Hockey's Top 100: The Game's Greatest Goals; with Don Weekes. (Greystone, 2010). 978-1-55365-660-9 : $15.95.

[BCBW 2010] "Sports"

Pavel Bure: The Riddle of the Russian Rocket (Greystone $28.95)

Pat Quinn wouldn’t talk. Neither would Canucks franchise-seller Arthur Griffiths. Or former assistant coach Ron Wilson. But Pavel Bure’s wife did. Kerry Banks’ unauthorized portrait, Pavel Bure: The Riddle of the Russian Rocket (Greystone $28.95), confirms that 20-year-old Pavel Bure was wed to 20-year-old fashion model Jayme Bohn on September 11, 1991. “We flew to Las Vegas,” says Bohn. “We got married. We videotaped it. I remember that much. Then we gambled and we flew back to L.A.” The Bure nuptials were designed as a legal parachute by agent Ron Salcer and Serge Levin, an old friend of the Bure family, because Bure risked deportation if the complicated negotiations couldn’t be settled. The couple never lived together and were divorced in the spring of 1992. Bohn recently made her acting debut in Black Ball, a film scheduled to be released in 2000. “Her role is a small one,” writes Banks. “She is listed as ‘Party Girl #1’.”

Pavel Bure: The Riddle of the Russian Rocket was conceived last fall by publisher Rob Sanders when Bure was known to be leaving the Canucks, but his destination (Florida Panthers) was yet unknown. It offers a cumulative picture of the enigmatic star, complete with a ‘Garbo-ish’ cover photo, and confirms most fans’ worst suspicions about the relative ineptitude of Canucks management. Before Bure’s arrival, the Canucks weren’t bad, they were the worst. Cumulatively they enjoyed the most advantageous drafting positions of any other NHL team during their first 19 years in the league and yet they consistently failed to improve. They entered the 1991-92 campaign with 15 consecutive losing seasons, the worst streak in NHL history. In North American pro sports, only the Philadelphia Phillies had a more miserable streak—16 consecutive losing seasons from 1933 to 1948.

With Bure, the Canucks were atop the NHL standings for the first quarter of the season. “In 23 years the Canucks had never had a superstar that could lift you off your seat,” says Global’s Barry Macdonald. Bure played in only 65 games but scored 34 goals, earning Rookie of the Year. The Canucks won the Smythe Division. But the Messiah wasn’t happy. Bure missed the company of Russians, he missed the buzz of a large city like Moscow and he frequently felt undervalued by Canucks management. The Canucks, according to Banks, treated Bure like an unwelcome houseguest, having had dreadful experiences with Russian import Vladimir Krutov. Their wrangles with Krutov eventually led to an arbitration case in Sweden where the Canucks were ordered to pay $80,000 to the Soviets and $500,000 in legal costs, ‘making it one of the worst financial boondoggles in club history’. The Canucks’ dismal negotiations with Petr Nedved only heightened their antagonism to ‘foreign’ stars.

Pat Quinn never liked the big contract Arthur Griffiths gave Bure in 1994. As well, Banks says the Canucks didn’t pay Bure’s signing bonus immediately, they didn’t pay him some back pay and they traded away his only close friend, Gino Odjik. “Bure’s sensitive temperament wasn’t well suited to the adversarial style of contract negotiations practiced by George McPhee,” writes Banks. “...Like his predecessor, Brian Burke, McPhee was a belligerent, hard-nosed individual. He had been picked for the job precisely because he possessed those qualities. [Pat] Quinn needed someone like McPhee to wear the black hat for him...”

Banks, Georgia Straight sports columnist, provides considerable background on the complex—legal and illegal—handling of Bure’s NHL career, with references to the Russian mafia and it’s infiltration of hockey on two continents. He says the NHL is like a closed shop with a lot of secrets. “You get the impression that hockey is really quite a dirty business.” As for Banks’ estimation of Bure, it hasn’t changed much since writing the book. “I think he’s a paradoxical character. He’s very ‘old Russian’ in his attitudes; but his style and appearance are very western. He’s very expressive. But he’s also very nationalistic. And he has a lot of pride. I admire his courage for coming here. Basically he didn’t know what was going to happen... He was a lightning rod for everything that happened to the Canucks. He got too much credit when things went well, and too much blame when things didn’t.” 1-55054-714-3