News from May 2002
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.... The top priority has to be someone who can shore up New York's defensive game and special teams. But Sather has always lived (and recently, died) by the best-defence-is-a-good-offence philosophy. That was never more evident than at the trade deadline with the aquisition of Pavel Bure.
Bure, need we mention, is the kind of player That drives Hitchcock crazy. Hitchcock plays the kind of paint-drying hockey that drives Sather crazy. Even so, the two sideswere talking, according to one source, even before Lowe was fired.
The Florida Panthers shook up their front office Friday, firing interim general manager Chuck Fletcher and replacing him with Rick Dudley.
Fletcher had taken over for Bill Torrey on December 3 and was instrumental in trading superstar right wing Pavel Bure from a team that finished 28th in the NHL at 22-44-10-6.
Plenty of shitty things have happened over the past 2 weeks, four score shitty things. So let me start off with the most ridiculous of all: Pavel Bure, or at least a pair of shabbily-dressed lawyers claiming to represent Pavel Bure, last week somehow succeeded in getting a judge to issue a 500,000 ruble judgment against the eXile. Meaning that we'll either be saved by a White Knight, shut down, or we'll be paying these creeps off kopek by kopek for the rest of our natural lives, and then some... long after we've been cryogenically frozen.
We had kept this case quiet for a long time. For months we didn't believe it was real - we didn't believe the telegrammed summonses, thin strips of ticker paper we were receiving every few weeks from the Baumanskaya Court; we didn't believe the stinky old sovok who started delivering those telegrams by hand... and we didn't believe the low-rent one-page fax we got from a lawyer named Grigory Kul'kov, claming to represent international hockey superstar Pavel Bure. We thought, amazingly enough, that some other newspaper, maybe The Russia Journal's Ajay Goyal, was putting us up to an elaborate, and ill-executed prank.
The lawyers claiming to represent Bure sued us for 2,000,000 rubles for pain and suffering due to a lame - even by our bottomless standards - article in an issue that came out on May 3rd last year, after I'd already moved from Moscow to Kentucky. It was a concept issue - a parody of The Weekly World News and The National Enquirer, and not a very successful one at that. One of the least successful articles claimed that Bure dumped Anna Kournikova after he discovered that she had two vaginas. Bad joke, big deal. Six months later, a lawsuit was initiated based on the theory that that article impacted Bure's ability conduct charity events for children. I swear to god this is true. If you don't believe me - and I know among you Western correspondents and North American females there is a sense of hope mixed with your suspicion - then do yourself a favor and call Pavel Bure's agent yourself. His name is Mike Gilles. His telephone number in the States is 1-613-548-4917. Or try a PR agency that claims to represent Bure, and acted as a "witness" to his suffering, although the witness wasn't present when the surprise verdict was read last Wednesday. The PR agency is called "Mesto Pod Soltsem" and their telephone number is 960-5403. Ask for Yulia.
It came as a surprise, I'll admit it. The first hearing I went to in March was such a joke - the lawyers claiming to represent Bure were so flattened - that the judge postponed everything for two months just to give the opposing lawyers a chance to prove that they really represented Bure. Their power of attorney was declared invalid; it was so flawed and suspect that she stopped the argument proceedings and I was sure she was on the verge of throwing the whole thing out. The next meeting the lawyers skipped town. Meanwhile, they had initiated an ethics complaint against the judge, something that seemed to both enrage and unnerve her. I figured it was all over.
I found out about the surprise final verdict, delivered under very suspicious circumstances, just after returning from my grandmother's funeral in America. She died two weeks ago. She died on Mother's Day, while I was in Israel. It wasn't unexpected - she was 89, and until last year she was strong as an ox. Nothing could take her down: breast cancer, anemia, two open heart surgeries, a pig valve, a stroke...she took them all on. She even divorced her husband at the age of 85. She'd kick Bure's ass. But something happened to her at the end of last summer. I think she just hit that point where "it" was no longer worth it. She suddenly curled up, lost her senses, and died.
After the funeral, I found out that she had left each of her four grandsons an elegant, expensive piece of jewelry. Three of them got theirs; I learned that mine had disappeared under mysterious circumstances, likely pawned off by my own grandmother just before she quit out last year.
And it gets worse. I returned last Thursday, my machine full of phone calls telling me what an ass I'd made of myself on "Bolshaya Stirka." That meant I had to hide the whole weekend. Monday, ugly fights in the office. Our designer court-martialed. New faces in the office that look like they crawled out of an old Berkeley acid-stained hallucination, or a trailer park in Eastern Kentucky. It's hard to believe that just one year ago, I lived the quiet life in Kentucky.
Only one woman in all of Russia is willing to spend two weeks living with me comes from Volgodonsk, and if no one out there steps up, she's going to be it. To her credit, she seems pretty aptly annoying, and she seems proud of it. It will make for a good game, as they say. Her name is Lena, and she's a 25-year-old "economist." Hurry up, girls! Your chance is slipping! After all, the lawyers claiming to represent Pavel Bure are nipping at our poverty-stricken heels!
It's funny, yeah, but then again, it's not funny. As one friend said, he always expected us to get shut down - that was the thrill of reading us, in a semi-democratic state, even moreso under Putin (a close friend of Bure's, by the way). But who would have thought that Pavel Bure - I'd never even HEARD of the guy before this lawsuit! - would shut us down. O the infamy, the humiliation, the pettiness of it all. What a lame way to end such an epic experiment in totally free and irresponsible journalism!
As you'll notice, on page 11 of this issue we've announced a contest to any NHL player (or for that matter any rich Western or Russian businessman idealistic enough and warped enough to understand what the world will be like without the eXile) who, in return for paying off the "pain and suffering" award to Pavel Bure, will receive from this newspaper the most honored chair we have ever offered: Permanent Honorary Editor-In-Chief. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
The truth about the Bure case is that I don't quite understand it. A few correspondents I told this to immediately assumed that it was the Kremlin's hand. I'm not sure about that. Another journalist from Canada pointed out to me that Robert Friedman's "Red Mafiya" book has an entire chapter devoted to Bure. He offered to let me read it. I declined. I get the point. In fact, everyone around here in our office does. And frankly, it's scary.
I have tried several times to call Bure's agent. He refuses to return my calls. I've spoken with the press office at the New York Rangers hockey club team. They didn't like what I told them, and referred everything to Gilles.
So here it is, live from Hitler's Bunker. The eXile, surrounded on all sides, the steel pincers claws closing in and ready to crush us...not, mind you, by the mighty Soviet and Allied armies, but by a couple of lawyers whose office I've never seen claiming to plunder us on behalf of some pop star hockey player whom I'd never heard of before.
Does anyone find this insane?