Canucks’ ‘Russian Rocket’ Pavel Bure back in town, but not for jersey retirement (with poll)
'To be a member of the Hall of Fame is a huge honour and to have a jersey retired is a different honour'
VANCOUVER — When the Vancouver Canucks sent out notice Thursday morning that the Russian Rocket, Pavel Bure, would be holding court with the media at 11:45 a.m., who knew what to think?
His jersey was being retired? He was buying the team? He had a trade in place for Roberto Luongo?
It turned out to be none of the above, at least for now. But it seems Bure's appearance in Vancouver is part of a fence-mending exercise between the club and its most electrifying player, which may lead one day to his No. 10 hanging from the rafters at Rogers Arena.
Officially, the Hockey Hall of Famer is in Vancouver to attend a gala dinner Friday night for Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini, the latter being honoured by the Vancouver Chinatown Lions Club. He also visited Children's Hospital Thursday afternoon and was to appear on the Canucks for Kids telethon Thursday night.
“I came here because Francesco Aquilini asked me to come for his special event,” Bure explained. “Francesco showed me great respect when he came to see me during the Hall of Fame induction (last November) and I spent some time with him.”
Bure played seven seasons with the Canucks, twice scoring 60 goals, but departed under bitter circumstances when he refused to honour the final year of his contract to force a trade. He eventually sat out half the 1998-99 season before new-at-the-time general manager Brian Burke dealt him to the Florida Panthers in a blockbuster package that involved Ed Jovanovski moving to the Canucks.
The issue of a Bure jersey retirement in Vancouver has been a contentious one due to the manner in which he left. Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden and Markus Naslund, all captains and terrific in the community, are the only Canucks to have their numbers retired.
Asked about the possibility of joining them, Bure replied: “Well, we had some discussion with Francesco and we talked about potential plans and we have some ideas but I'm going to leave it up to Francesco to share those details with you guys. Obviously it's a huge honour.”
Pressed on whether that meant it was a fait accompli, Bure laughed.
“Generally, it (jersey retirement) is a huge honour,” he said. “That's what I can tell you. To be a member of the Hall of Fame is a huge honour and to have a jersey retired is a different honour. You can't compare it. But both of them, obviously, it's huge recognition and a huge honour.”
Bure, now 42, last played in 2002-03 for the New York Rangers before chronic knee woes ended his career. He wound up scoring 50 or more goals five times, was the NHL's rookie of the year in 1991-92 and captured two Rocket Richard Trophies with the Panthers.
He said his memories in Vancouver were too numerous to list when asked to name just three.
“I have great memories but it's really hard to choose only three,” he responded. “There were so many of them. My first game, my first goal, and obviously in 1994 when we went to the final. I can keep going and going so it would take a long time.”
He is also a big fan of the shootout.
“Actually I was one of the first ones who was talking about maybe we should play 4-on-4 overtime and, if it's a tie, let's go to penalty shots,” Bure said. “I think it's so exciting for the fans to see those penalty shots, especially when the score is, like, 1-1 or 2-2 with not too many goals. Me, personally, I love to score goals and (in a shootout) I have a chance after a boring game to go out and do something for the fans and all the fans get excited.”
On a social note, Bure expects to become a father in the next few weeks. He knows it's a boy but declined to say whether a name has been picked out. His best pal on the Canucks, Gino Odjick, has a son named after him (Bure Odjick) but he merely chuckled when asked if he was planning to return the favour.
“I saw Gino's son in Toronto and he's big and strong so it's pretty cool,” Bure said. “Maybe one day he'll play in the NHL so it will be Bure Odjick.”
And then perhaps an Odjick Bure?
“Ha, ha, we'll see,” said the Russian Rocket as his media session came to a close and he went on his way.
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