Why Michael Buble is the world’s most legit celebrity fan

Matt Larkin
Michael Buble. (Photo by Evaan Kheraj)

Is it really Nov. 5, 1991, at the Pacific Coliseum? It’s printed on the tickets and programs. But you’d swear it was playoff time. The 16,000 Vancouver Canucks faithful quake with anticipation. It’s finally time to see what he can do, the brash young Russian kid, imported from the Red Army, who goes by the name of Pavel Bure. The hype is so great that coach and GM Pat Quinn delayed Bure’s debut a game so it wouldn’t steal thunder from Stan Smyl’s jersey retirement.

And in the blink of an eye, Bure takes his first stride toward becoming the franchise’s greatest player ever. He carries the puck the length of the ice, splitting the Winnipeg Jets defense. He’s so fast his body arrives in the slot before the puck. He has to kick it back to himself to finish the breakaway with a deke. He doesn’t score, but it doesn’t matter.
Especially to a 16-year-old kid named Michael Buble, attending with his grandfather. As season ticket holders, they never miss a game. And yet Buble still has never seen or felt anything like this.

“I literally and figuratively sat on the edge of my seat and bounced like a horse, like I was riding a horse, and as you looked around everyone else was doing it, too, everyone was almost jockeying,” Buble said. “It was electric. Everyone was like, ‘Oh my god, we have never had a player like this before. Not just a good player. We have a genuine superstar.’ ”

Little did Buble realize at the time, he’d one day bring thousands to their feet in packed arenas the same way Bure did. Except Buble, now 40, did it with his voice, not his feet. He developed a passion for crooners, jazz and soul music, listening to his grandfather’s huge collection of records. Buble idolized the likes of Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra. His granddad, a plumber, was so convinced his grandson would become a musician some day that he’d offer his plumbing services to other performers in exchange for stage time for Buble. By 17, one year after witnessing the Russian Rocket’s launch, Buble had won the British Columbia Youth Talent Search competition. Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney discovered Buble’s independent album. Buble eventually got signed by mega-producer David Foster and is now one of Canada’s most successful recording artists ever, with half a dozen multi-platinum albums and Grammys galore.

But if you’re a music buff, you probably know that about him already. What you might not know, though, is that worldwide fame did nothing to quell his other life passion: hockey.
Buble jumps at the chance to put aside music and talk about anything to do with the sport. He’s as much a superfan as any rabid late-night sports radio caller. He says hockey was even more important to him than music when he was growing up. As a kid, he’d pretend he was the Canucks’ Patrik Sundstrom or Tony Tanti. He grew to love longtime captain Trevor Linden and, of course, Bure. Buble felt the anguish of the 1994 Stanley Cup loss to the New York Rangers in Game 7.

“It was heartbreaking, because we truly were so close,” he said. “We were a post away. A crossbar away. And some s—ty refereeing away.”

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Rumor Roundup: Jets remain at center of trade speculation


With New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic’s trade request dominating the rumor mill of late, several other recent rumors went overlooked. Here’s a look at some you may have missed.

The Winnipeg Jets remain a team of interest in this season’s NHL rumor mill. The status of pending UFAs Dustin Byfuglien and Andrew Ladd has many observers wondering if they’ll move or re-sign them. They’re also considered a destination of choice for Hamonic, a Manitoba native.

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Luongo one win from eighth all-time — does he have Hall of Fame credentials?

Jared Clinton
Roberto Luongo (Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images)

With one more victory, Roberto Luongo will take sole possession of eighth all-time in wins. It will be Luongo’s 408th victory, putting him one ahead of Glenn Hall and leaving Luongo only 14 wins shy of passing Tony Esposito for seventh all-time. But even as his passes some of the games all-time greats, one has to wonder if Luongo has the credentials to get into the Hall of Fame.

As THN’s Brian Costello excellently pointed out in August 2014, Luongo’s chances at getting himself into the Hall are based solely on one thing: his ability to pile up wins. Moving past Hall and Esposito won’t be enough for Luongo, though. No, in order to get into the Hall, Luongo is going to have to climb much further. Precedent has been set for someone of his ilk by the exclusion of Curtis Joseph from the Hall of Fame since he became eligible in 2012. Read more

Go west young man: Handicapping Travis Hamonic’s preferred trade destinations

John Tavares (left) and Travis Hamonic  (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Travis Hamonic is 25 years old. He’s a mobile, physical defensemen who can munch minutes and has a reasonable amount of offensive potential. He’s a steal against the salary cap, currently leads all defensemen in hits, is a right-shot defenseman and has favorable numbers when it comes to analytics. And his best years as an NHL player could very well be in front of him.

So from the standpoint of New York Islanders GM Garth Snow, there could never be a better time to trade him. But when the player not only asks for a trade, but limits his destination to one of four teams, any leverage Snow had over his possible trade partners is wiped out. There’s nothing the drops a player’s trade market value more dramatically than a desperate need to move him and a limited number of destinations.

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Daniel Sedin scores bizarre goal, was the only person who knew puck was in

Jared Clinton
Daniel Sedin celebrates alone after scoring on the power play (via Canucks/YouTube)

Of the 333 goals Daniel Sedin has scored in his career and of all those that are yet to come, there has likely never been and will likely never be another that’s met with as little fanfare as his power play goal Monday.

The Canucks were five seconds into a power play in the second frame when the puck was slid to Sedin on the blueline. With room to operate closer to the goal, Sedin drifted to the top of the left wing circle, wound up and blasted a slap shot on net. And then Sedin’s momentum carried him forward while he held his stick high as seemingly the only person in the entire building that knew the puck was lodged in the top of the net: Read more

Who is the greatest No. 13 of all-time, Mats Sundin or Pavel Datsyuk?

Ryan Kennedy
Mats Sundin (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

It’s Friday the 13th, which got us pondering that mystical number. For some, it is bad luck. But many hockey players have worn No. 13 in their careers and the two best who are associated with it (Teemu Selanne’s banners go with No. 8) are Mats Sundin and Pavel Datsyuk. Two incredible talents, but which one is the best of all-time? Let’s break this thing down.

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Report: Canucks’ Burrows to meet with NHL regarding incident with Devils’ Tootoo

Jared Clinton

The NHL is reportedly set to meet with Vancouver’s Alexandre Burrows after New Jersey’s Jordin Tootoo accused Burrows of making “personal remarks” regarding Tootoo’s family Sunday night.

According to Sportsnet’s John Shannon, Burrows is set to meet with NHL officials Friday in Toronto to discuss the incident. What exactly was said by Burrows is unknown, but Tootoo was upset with Burrows’ comments and told media post-game that he had no respect for the Canucks winger. Read more