case the parking lot in front of an upscale west end restaurant.
No sight of the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy that was being trucked in
for the photo op with Radek Bonk. But then why would they be an
hour early. Radek and I were booked for an interview over lunch
with photo to follow. Ah, thereís a brand-new Mercedes Kompressor,
a sporty-casual car for a young, man-about-town hockey player if
ever there were one. I pull in beside, hoping that some of the gloss
and glamour rubs off on my little runabout.
Radek Bonkís table, please ďOh, Mr. Bonkís not here,Ē the maitre
dí replies. ďThen whose Kompressor?Ē I blurt. Not important. Itís
not Bonkís and itís he who Iíve come to see. I choose the seat with
my back to the door. Having never seen Radek Bonk and knowing nothing
about him except that he plays hockey and has a Harley, I figure
heíll find me.
A tall sweatshirted, baseball-capped person in scuffed sneaks
approaches and holds out his hand. Itís Bonk, looking like a university
student out for a quick bite. Iím not sure what I expected of a
prize-athlete. He epitomizes laid-back comfort and with a firm squeeze
of my hand seats himself and orders a ginger ale. His gaze is direct
and open. I say how glad I am that heís agreed to meet me. ďNo problem,Ē
he smiles. Heís gracious and accommodating. Again, I donít know
what I expected. Maybe some arrogant hockey jock who wouldnít offer
the time of day if asked? My mistake . . . again. No rich playboy
stance, no pretence.
I mention that a local Harley Davidson dealer is providing a Fat
Boy to pose with and discover that heís pressed for time and canít
wait an hour until the bike arrives. Yikes! Quick, make some phone
calls to the bike shop; everything has to be moved up. I rise to
find a phone booth.
In a second, Radek proffers his cellular phone. And now comes one
of those funny inter- generational moments where the tech-minded
young help the Luddite-old. ďI donít know how to use a cell phone,Ē
I cringe, waiting for a guffaw, but instead, with a shrug and a
quizzical look, but he didnít roll his eyes, too polite for that,
he dials the number.
Our food comes and I think to myself how I could really get into
doing a Lunch with Jan Wong kind of column. Lunch with Shan. Kind
of has a ring. We chat about his love of cars and the ones he keeps
in the Czech Republic along with his Harley, the Mitsubishi 3000
he bought in 1995 and a BMW M5 he bought two years ago. ď I like
fast cars,Ē he admits and says that one of the pleasures of spending
his off-season months back home is being able to drive through the
forests and mountains, savouring the spectacular Czech scenery.
He says of the BMW SUV he uses as his daily driver here, ďThe X5
is a four-by-four but quicker and lighter than most SUVs. And itís
a very comfortable ride,Ē adding, ďI like Hummers, too.Ē
The Fat Boy pulls up on a small flat bed equipped with a neat
lift and we leave the restaurant. Radek Bonk sits on the bike and
little boy glee suffuses his face.
Q: Have you always driven motorcycles?
A: Not really. I always wanted one but could not afford to get one
until now. I bought the 1998 Fat Boy and customized it. Only the
motor is stock. I added chrome, put on a bigger gas tank, different
seat, different fenders and different handle bars. Thereís a bigger
wheel on the back, too.
Q: You have several high-end vehicles now so where do
you go automotively from here?
A: There will always be a car I want. Thereís always a Ferrari.
Q: Why donít you just go out and buy one? Too showy?
A: No, not too showy. You wouldnít be able to drive it in the winter
here and the roads back home are not very good for that kind of
driving. I like Ferraris and Porsches, too, but I dunno.
Q: It sounds to me that although you are in a position
to spoil yourself, you donít.
A: You just donít buy something because you can. You want to be
able to use it. Thereís no point having a Ferrari and only driving
it three times a year.
Q: If you were going to indulge yourself, what would you
A: These days, you have to be smart with your money. A hockey career
is over when youíre 35 or 40 and then what? You cannot spend all
your money now and when you finish. . . .
Q: Yes, what then?
A: I would like to return to the Czech Republic and coach kids now
to play hockey but you never know.
Q: Last question, how do you deal with being recognized
in public, essentially, being famous?
A: Iím not famous. People know me because I play hockey but itís
a team sport and everyoneís important.
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