Pavel Bure, one of the most exciting players in Canucks franchise history, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Tuesday. Bure, who retired from professional hockey in 2005, at the age of 34, was undeniably one of the most electrifying players to ever play the game. Bure’s lightning speed, agility, and exceptional scoring touch set him aside from his counterparts. The Moscow native was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the 6th round of the 1989 NHL entry draft and made his North American hockey debut with the Canucks in the 1991-1992 season.
In his rookie season, Bure notched 60 points (34 goals and 26 assists) in 65 games played, beating out the now legendary Detroit Red Wing, Nicklas Lidstrom, for the NHL’s Calder trophy as Rookie of the Year. Former Canucks’ Assistant Coach, Ryan Walter had the opportunity to play alongside Bure during the Russian’s rookie season and describes him nothing short of extraordinary, explaining, “Pavel came in with a bang and that’s how he played…His speed was incredible.[When he had the puck] the fans stood up and they expected something to happen. Pavel was like that. Really, an amazing player” (x).
Bure built off his outstanding rookie season with the Canucks by scoring 60 goals in back-to-back seasons (1992-1993 and 1993-1994). In Vancouver, Pavel will most be remembered for his contributions to the Canucks’ 1994 run to the Stanley Cup Final in which he tallied 31 points (16 goals and 15 assists) in 24 playoff games played, setting a Canucks record for most playoff goals scored in a single playoff run (x). After a seven year stay with the Canucks, Bure went on to play for the Florida Panthers, registering back-to-back 50+ goal seasons in 1999-2000 and 2000-2001, earning him two consecutive Rocket Richard trophies as the NHL’s League Leading Scorer. The All-Star then went on to play for the New York Rangers and eventually ended his NHL career as a Ranger in 2003, retiring in 2005 due to lingering issues from chronic knee injuries.
Many critics and fans alike argue that Bure’s induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame is well overdue. Understandable, given the impressive feats he accomplished in his career, including averaging 1.1 points per game (ranking him fifth, all-time in NHL history) and registering five, 50 goal seasons. Former Canucks teammate, Geoff Courtnall raves about Bure, insisting, “I think he deserves to get a lot of recognition, especially in Vancouver. When I left here [in 1995…], that kid was the best player on the team and he was the reason the team was able to attract the fan base and build the new rink (x). Courtnall goes on to credit Bure’s work ethic, explaining that despite his natural skill and talent Bure’s “commitment to the game and to getting better and winning was amazing” (x).
Former Canuck and long-time friend of Bure, Gino Odjick, affirms Courtnall’s sentiments, emphasizing Bure’s positive mentality and dedication to perfecting his game. Odjick asserted how the Hall of Famer, “made himself into a superstar with training and hard work (x). Former Canucks captain, Markus Naslund also acknowledges Bure’s remarkable career, stressing that “he was an exceptional player, unique in many ways given the way he could score with his explosiveness and speed” (x).
The Canucks organization (despite not having yet retired Bure’s jersey) recognize how influential Bure was to the game and General Manager (and Bure’s former agent), Mike Gillis has said that he is happy for him. Gillis went on to address that Bure “had everything a superstar needs to have. He had speed and a scoring ability, which allowed him to score in so many ways. Whether it was with his backhand, with his slap shot, or with a wrist shot, he was incredible” (x). Gillis also highlighted how Bure’s confidence allowed him to play the game without fear “and [how] fearlessness took him to dangerous areas on the ice” (x) adding another dynamic to his game.
Undeniably, for many reasons, Bure’s induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame is very well deserved. Bure is clearly ecstatic and humbled in joining the ranks of hockey’s best, after hearing the news, he beamed “[i]t is a tremendous honour to be selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame…Growing up, I never even thought I would be able to play in the NHL, much less make it into the Hockey Hall of Fame.” (x).“I am so proud now to be in Hall of Fame. It is a great honour for me and my family” (x).
And it was an honour to watch you play Pavel, thanks for the memories.
Bure (alongside this year’s other inductees, Joe Sakic, Adam Oates, and Mats Sundin) will formally be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in a ceremony this November.