On June 27th, Pavel Bure was finally (after 6 years of eligibility) elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame. This was more than deserved. Bure is the first inductee who spent most of his time in the NHL with Vancouver, which Down Goes Brown noticed in their Hall of Fame candidates preview:
Markus Naslund – No player who was primarily known as a Vancouver Canuck has ever been inducted into the Hall of Fame but Naslund has a chance to finally change that, assuming he spends some time emailing the selection committee YouTube videos of how awesome Pavel Bure was.
To me, that’s not only hilarious, but an accurate representation of the relative merits of the two players. Now, I’m no Markus Naslund, but I can link YouTube videos with the best of them. So here you go:
The Canucks organization, however, isn’t as big a fan of the Russian Rocket as all that. Maybe this is not surprising, considering how it all ended: in 1998 he refused to report to the team and demanded a trade. But let’s walk back from that moment a little bit.
When I first moved to Vancouver with my family in the spring of 1994, it seemed like everything was all Pavel Bure all the time. Yeah, sure, other people occasionally were mentioned in conversation. Everyone liked Trevor Linden. Dave Babych’s mustache was impressive. Sergio Momesso’s name was fun to say. I’m sure there were also people in Vancouver that didn’t have to do with hockey that were famous or something. But no one was renaming themselves Trevor Linden in gold rush roleplaying in my grade 4/5 split class. No one led us in a rousing cheer on Sports Day with a couplet about Dave Babych’s mustache. Normally, being a new immigrant puts you in a low position on the social ladder. You expect your accent to be mocked, not fawned over with an “Oh my Gawd, you sound just like Pavel Bure!” The very best you can normally hope for is that people don’t care. But being a Russian immigrant was suddenly an enviable position (at least until my classmates found out I couldn’t skate worth a lick). And it was all because of the Russian Rocket. So what I’m saying is, in addition to being the best and most exciting player the Canucks have ever had, Bure did mean a lot to Vancouver. And as to walking out on the team, you could sort of see his point. Remember, it was 1998. Mike Keenan and Mark Messier had swept in to gut the Canucks and turn them into something we all hated. This was the era of relying on way-past-his-prime Peter Zezel, Trent Klatt, Enrico Ciccone, trading for players only to trade them away two weeks later. If I were Bure, I’d want no part of this either. He wasn’t the captain. Why force him to go down with the ship? No less a Vancouver saint than Linden couldn’t stand that time in Canucks history. At this point, the management and the coaching staff of the Canucks are all different. The ownership group is different. I don’t think there’s any players that were with the team in 1998. Pavel Bure was the best hockey player the Canucks have had. The Canucks organization should get over their stupid grudges and recognize that.