Rocket from Russia
If you’re of a certain age and grew up in 1994, that team has a magical place in your heart. It was the start of viewing the Canucks with wonder and excitement, it was the first chance you had to see the team do well and it forged a permanent bond in your still-developing brain.
It was that beautiful moment when you first realized you were going to spend the rest of your life with this team and didn’t have any knowledge of the heartbreak, drinking and whining kids the future held.
No one captured that feeling better than Pavel Bure, who was the lightning-bottled, admission-worthy superstar the Canucks never had and really have never had since.
Trevor Linden and the Sedins belong in any conversation about the greatest Canucks ever, but their talent relies on workman consistency.
It’s effective, it’s vitally important for success, but it lacks that spark that Bure possessed that made him a threat every time he touched the puck. The Sedins have highlight reel goals that rival Bure’s for the prettiest goals in franchise history, but the Sedins don’t have Bure’s speed.
A Sedin goal is a triumph of angles, a Bure goal is a triumph of pure motion.
Where Pavel Bure was Top Gun, the Sedins are Vanilla Sky. He also owns the indisputable greatest goal in Canucks history.
Feelings for Pavel Bure in this town are complicated by his messy departure, but that doesn’t nullify his contributions during the first act of his career.
The more we learn about his conflict with Canucks management the more we realize that the team may not have always been upfront with its franchise player.
The Don Cherry rumour about holding out during the finals was proven to be false, and Pat Quinn’s last minute switch from American currency to Canadian currency is pretty hard to defend.
Remember, this is the same Quinn who had Wayne Gretzky practically signed, sealed and delivered to centre Pavel Bure before he panicked and called Gretzky’s agent in the middle of the night demanding Wayne get out of bed and sign the contract immediately.
The New York Rangers would like to thank the Canucks for that one.
And if you were still in school during the Bure era, you didn’t care or even realize about all these off-ice troubles. Bure was just the best hockey player on your favourite team and you had his poster and asked for his jersey at Christmas.
He made an entire generation of Canuck fans.
Without Bure, the franchise might not have made it into the McCaw/Naslund era.
His first practice with the club in 1991 drew 2,000 fans.
Pavel Bure was the shot of relevance the Canucks desperately needed after a disastrous two decades in the league.