Backchecking: Byron Dafoe

Josh Elliott
(Photo by Denis Brodeur/Getty Images)

Josh Elliott

When Byron Dafoe comes home at night, his house rolls out the welcome mat. His garage bay recognizes his car and opens for him. The darkened house lights a path to his kitchen, his favorite radio station comes on and the hot tub heats to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. After eight knee surgeries, he says getting into the hot tub is a nice end to a long day managing all his business interests.

Since retiring from the NHL in 2004, Dafoe, 43, has added golf courses, resorts and subdivisions to his real estate portfolio and continued to work for Athletes Against Autism, a charity he founded with ex-NHLer and former teammate Olaf Kolzig. Although they don’t run themselves, his 13,000 square-foot mansion in Kelowna, B.C., does just that thanks to his other business: Diamante Custom Automation. It’s a company that specializes in wiring mansions for full remote control, using a system called Crestron. It ties everything from home heating to lighting to home theater control into a single smartphone app that can run the house from anywhere in the world.

“You can go as elaborate as you want,” Dafoe says. “It’s whatever you can think up and as long as we can get a wire to it, we can control it from any mechanism.”

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Backchecking: Valeri Bure

Valeri Bure

By Gareth Bush

Valeri Bure made a career out of beating NHL defenders with blazing speed. Having been retired for a decade, he hasn’t slowed down.

Bure played 10 seasons in the NHL, primarily with the Canadiens, Flames and Panthers, posting 407 points in 643 career games. After undergoing back surgery following 2003-04, he decided to retire. From the first time players lace up a pair of skates to the last time they take them off, hockey is the only thing most NHLers ever know. Understandably, many retirees choose to stay in the game, working in management, player development, coaching and anything in between. But not Bure, who had a thirst for something else.

“A few of my veteran teammates in Montreal enjoyed going out for a nice dinner and a glass of wine, so at the age of 20 I was introduced to the wine world,” he says. “From there my passion for wine just kept growing.”

Years later, Bure took an off-season trip to Napa Valley, a California-based wine region considered one of the world’s best. It was there he decided he would create his own label.

“I fell in love with the behind-the-scenes work and being able to start from the vineyard and put it into a bottle,” he says. “It’s an amazing process.”

In 2006, Bure Family Wines was born. Located in St. Helena, Calif., BFW produces five small-lot, handcrafted wines, including a cabernet sauvignon named Majesty. The title pays tribute to Bure’s great-grandfather, who was the watchmaker for the Russian czar. The company logo also symbolizes a Russian imperial seal that he placed on each watch. After six years of developing and crafting his product, Bure says business is finally starting to pick up.

“The brand is getting a lot stronger and industry critics are giving us pretty high scores,” he says. “It’s very fun to see that when I’m travelling, people know me for my wine and not so much for hockey.”

Bure describes managing BFW as a full-time job, but winemaking isn’t the only occupation Bure has added to his resume since leaving the NHL. He and his wife, Candace Cameron-Bure (best known for her role on Full House), opened a restaurant called The Milk and Honey Cafe in Florida in 2007, though it later closed when the family moved to California to focus on BFW.

Aside from his marriage to a Hollywood actress, Bure returned to the public eye in 2010 when he participated on CBC’s Battle of the Blades, a competitive reality show that pairs former NHL players with figure skaters. It was an experience he was originally reluctant to pursue and describes as the most difficult of his life.

“My wife convinced me to do it, but by the end of the show I actually started enjoying it because it gave me an adrenaline rush like hockey,” Bure says. “You’re not performing in front of 20,000 people, but this was just more cunning.”

Bure and his dance partner Ekaterina Gordeeva won the competition.
Of course, hockey is still a big part of his life. He coaches his three teenage children, all registered minor league players in California. More noticeably, Bure’s brother Pavel was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.

“Watching his highlight reel at the ceremony, the hair was standing up on my neck,” Bure says. “It was super cool and I couldn’t believe my brother is in the Hall of Fame. He deserves it.”

This article originally appeared in the March 3, 2014 edition of The Hockey News. For more great analysis, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to THN magazine.

Backchecking: Mike Moller

Adam Proteau
Mike Moller (Hockey Canada Images)

As a boy growing up in rural Alberta, Mike Moller was accustomed to matchbox-sized arenas. So it was fitting the scene of his best-known hockey moment – scoring the gold medal-winning goal that gave Canada its first World Junior Championship in 1982 – wasn’t an NHL-style facility, but rather a rink in Rochester, Minn., that couldn’t have had more than 2,000 people in it. “Playing in larger centers earlier in the tournament was a thrill,” Moller says of the games leading up to the final against the Czechs. “Winnipeg and Minnesota fans were just fantastic. But to play that game in a smaller center, where it was standing room only and people were hanging from the rafters, we were in our element.” Read more

Backchecking: Grant Marshall

(Grant Marshall, by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

By Adam Kozak

Dec. 4, 1990, is a day Grant Marshall will never forget. He was 17 years old playing in his first season in the Ontario League with the Ottawa 67’s when he was viciously checked from behind by Jason Young in a game against the Sudbury Wolves. The hit left him with a broken neck and temporary paralysis. In the blink of an eye, his NHL dream was put on hold.

“At that point I was so scared,” Marshall says. “I couldn’t move. My life was turned upside down.”

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Backchecking: Jean-Guy Talbot

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images Sport)

There are several truly remarkable footnotes on the career of Jean-Guy Talbot.

In Quebec junior hockey in 1952, Talbot’s errant stick to the head of 19-year-old William ‘Scotty’ Bowman left the player with recurring headaches. That led to Bowman becoming tentative on the ice, which eventually pushed him toward the most successful coaching career in NHL history.

After Talbot turned pro, he won the Stanley Cup in each of his first five NHL seasons, a feat shared only by teammates Henri Richard, Claude Provost and Bob Turner. Led by Rocket Richard and Jean Beliveau, the Montreal Canadiens won the first of five consecutive Cups in 1955-56.

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