Pavel Bure

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Pavel Bure
Hockey Hall of Fame, 2012
A hockey player on the ice before spectators. He wears a white jersey with a big "C", and his youthful face has a serious expression.
Bure with the Canucks in the 1997–98 season
Born (1971-03-31) March 31, 1971 (age 43)
Moscow, Soviet Union
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 191 lb (87 kg; 13 st 9 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shot Left
Played for SCL/IHL (Russia)
 CSKA Moscow
 Spartak Moscow
NHL
 Vancouver Canucks
 Florida Panthers
 New York Rangers
DEL
 EV Landshut
National team  Soviet Union 
 Russia
NHL Draft 113th overall, 1989
Vancouver Canucks
Playing career 1987–2003

Pavel Vladimirovich Bure (Russian: Па́вел Влади́мирович Буре́, IPA: [ˈpavʲɪl bʊˈrɛ]; born March 31, 1971) is a retired Russian professional ice hockey right winger. Nicknamed "The Russian Rocket" for his speed,[1][2] Bure played for 12 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) with the Vancouver Canucks, Florida Panthers and New York Rangers. Trained in the Soviet Union, where he was known as "Pasha",[3][4] he played three seasons with the Central Red Army team before his NHL career.

Selected 113th overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft by Vancouver, he began his NHL career in 1991–92 and won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's best rookie before leading the NHL in goal-scoring in 1993-94 and helping the Canucks to the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. After seven seasons with the Canucks, Bure was dealt to the Panthers, where he won back-to-back Rocket Richard Trophies as the league's leading goal-scorer (accomplished with Vancouver in 1993–94 as well, before the trophy's inauguration). Bure struggled with knee injuries throughout his career, resulting in his retirement in 2005 as a member of the Rangers, although he had not played since 2003. He averaged better than a point per game in his NHL career (779 points with 437 goals in 702 NHL games) and is third all-time in goals per game.[notes 1] After six years of eligibility, Bure was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in June 2012.

Internationally, Bure competed for the Soviet Union and Russia. As a member of the Soviet Union, he won two silver medals and a gold in three World Junior Championships, followed by a gold and a silver medal in the 1990 and 1991 World Championships, respectively. After the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, Bure competed for Russia in two Winter Olympics, winning silver at the 1998 Games in Nagano as team captain and bronze at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City. Following Bure's retirement in 2005, he was named the general manager for Russia's national team at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin.[5] Bure was later recognized for his international career as a 2012 inductee in the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame.

Early life[edit]

Bure was born in Moscow to Vladimir and Tatiana Bure in 1971. At age 12, his parents separated, and Bure remained with his mother.[6] Vladimir Bure, a Russian swimming legend, had dreams of Pavel becoming a professional swimmer, but Pavel aspired to play hockey at an early age. He attended his first tryout with the CSKA Moscow hockey school at the age of six despite his limited skating ability. Until that point, Bure had only played hockey on the streets with a ball.[7] After Bure failed to impress in his first tryout, his father told him that if he did not show significant improvement within two months, he would withdraw him from the hockey school.[8] By age 11, he was named the best forward in his league. Around that time, in July 1982, Bure was selected as one of three young Russian players to practice with Wayne Gretzky and Soviet national goaltender Vladislav Tretiak in a taped television special.[9] By the time he was 14 years old, he was named to the Central Red Army's junior team.[6]

In December 1986, he embarked on a tour of Canada, spanning from Ottawa to Vancouver, with the Soviet national midget team. Nearly five years before Bure made his NHL debut with the Vancouver Canucks in 1991 at the Pacific Coliseum, he played his first game at his future home rink as part of the tour. Bure also earned another opportunity to meet Gretzky, as well as defenceman Paul Coffey, when his team stopped in Edmonton to play at the Northlands Coliseum.[10]

Playing career[edit]

Central Red Army (1987–1991)[edit]

Bure began his professional hockey career at age 16, playing for the Central Red Army team. He was invited to the senior club's training camp for the 1987–88 season and, although he was deemed too young and not yet ready for the Soviet League, Bure earned minimal playing time filling in for absent regulars. He made his debut in September 1987 when the club briefly lost several players to the 1987 Canada Cup; Bure played in five games that season. He scored his first professional goal for CSKA Moscow while playing on the fourth line in his senior club debut.[11]

Bure joined the club full-time in 1988–89 and amassed 17 goals, a Soviet League record for rookies.[12] The record-setting mark stood for 18 years before New York Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov scored 18 goals in 2006–07.[13] Bure added 9 assists for 26 points to earn the league's rookie of the year honours.[12] His individual success helped CSKA Moscow capture their thirteenth consecutive Soviet championship and twelfth consecutive IIHF European Cup in 1989 (they repeated as European champions the following year).[14]

As a member of the Moscow-based club, Bure joined a lineup that featured several future NHL players, including linemates Sergei Fedorov and Alexander Mogilny,[12] as well as Igor Larionov, Slava Fetisov, Sergei Makarov, and Vladimir Konstantinov. The combination of Bure, Fedorov and Mogilny formed a promising combination for head coach Viktor Tikhonov, with expectations to replace the previous top Soviet line, the K-L-M combination of Vladimir Krutov, Larionov and Makarov.[8] The trio was short-lived, as Mogilny defected to play for the Buffalo Sabres in 1989 and Fedorov joined the Detroit Red Wings the following year.[15][16]

In his third and final season with the Red Army, Bure tied for the lead in team-scoring with Valeri Kamensky, tallying 46 points.[17] His 35 goals was second in the league, one goal behind Ramil Yuldashev of Sokil Kyiv.[18] Bure turned down a three-year contract extension in August 1991, which resulted in him being left off the roster of the Soviet team for the Canada Cup.[8]

Transfer to the NHL (1989–1991)[edit]

Prior to the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, Bure was ranked unanimously by scouts, as well as by The Hockey News, as the best prospect available in the draft.[19][20][21][22] William Houston of The Globe and Mail wrote, "The best of the group is Soviet star winger Pavel Bure, a spectacular player with outstanding speed. He is compared to Vladimir Krutov and also the late Soviet superstar of the 1970s, Valeri Kharlamov."[19] NHL organizations were afraid he would not leave the Soviet Union to play in the NHL thus deterring teams from selecting him early, although scouts and analysts believed he could have been selected as high as the second round in case he defected. Many analysts compared Bure to Valeri Khalarmov.[20][23] Edmonton Oilers scout Barry Fraser commented, "From what I've seen of him, Bure can play on any team in the NHL right now... he's quick, real quick, small and very exciting. He may be the top player in this year's draft, but because he is from the Soviet Union, we don't analyze him the same way as a kid from the West... I don't expect him to go really early because it is still too much of a gamble to hope he will defect."[20] Bure was selected 113th overall in the sixth round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks, following his rookie season with CSKA Moscow. The pick was controversial, as the Canucks had chosen him seemingly a year ahead of his eligible draft season. At the age of 18, he was available to be chosen in the first three rounds of the draft, but in order to be selected any later than that, he would have needed to play in at least two seasons—with a minimum of 11 games per season—for his elite-level Soviet club, the Central Red Army.[24] While most teams believed he was ineligible, the Canucks' head scout at the time, Mike Penny, discovered that Bure had played in additional exhibition and international games to make him an eligible late-round draft choice a year early.[3][4] Jack Button, the Washington Capitals' director of player personnel, admitted "everybody would have taken him earlier. We assumed he was not eligible... you've got to give the Canucks credit for doing their homework."[25]

Several other teams either had similar knowledge or had pursued Bure, but there was confusion as to the legitimacy of the extra games. The Detroit Red Wings had inquired to league vice president Gil Stein as to Bure's supposed availability prior to their fifth-round pick, but were told that he was not eligible.[24] According to General Manager Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings, their European scout Christer Rockstrom insisted that the Wings select Bure while he was still available in the fifth round, but upon being told of his ineligibility the team selected Shawn McCosh instead. The Red Wings then decided they would select him with their sixth-round pick, 116th overall, "no matter what" and then settle his eligibility later. The Canucks selected Bure three picks ahead of Detroit's turn.[26] Winnipeg Jets general manager Mike Smith, meanwhile, claimed he travelled to Moscow prior to the draft and made an offer to the Soviet Ice Hockey Federation. The deal involved a transfer fee to be paid to the Soviets over three years, after which time, Bure would join the Jets as a 21-year-old. Smith did not have any plans to draft Bure in 1989, however, as he believed Bure was ineligible.[27]

General manager Pat Quinn originally intended to draft Bure in the eighth round, but after receiving word that the Edmonton Oilers had similar intentions, he selected him in the sixth.[24] Detroit's European scout Christer Rockstrom immediately began protesting, while several other unidentified team representatives reportedly stormed the Met Center stage in Minnesota, where the draft was being held, following the announcement of Bure's draft.[28] The Hartford Whalers and Washington Capitals then filed formal complaints to the league, resulting in an investigation into the selection.[24] After the pick was deemed illegal by league president John Ziegler in a press release on May 17, 1990, the Canucks appealed the decision, procuring game sheets proving Bure's participation in the additional games with the help of recent Soviet acquisition Igor Larionov. It was not until the eve of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, in which Bure would have been re-entered, that the draft choice was upheld.[24]

Although Larionov and Fetisov had successfully spearheaded the rebellion against Soviet ice hockey officials in the late 1980s that led to the allowance of Soviet players to join the NHL,[29] Bure's transfer to the Canucks met with resistance. Soviet authorities forbade the Canucks to contact Bure personally. During the 1991 World Junior Championships, he told the Toronto Sun in an interview that he was hesitant to defect for fears that the Soviets would make things difficult for his younger brother Valeri Bure, who was 15 at the time and playing in the junior league.[30]

Bure left Moscow with his father and brother on September 6, 1991, temporarily staying in Los Angeles. His mother arrived shortly afterwards.[31] The Canucks began negotiating a contract with Bure, but before one could be finalized, the issue of his existing contract with the Central Red Army had to be settled. The Canucks management and officials from the Soviet Ice Hockey Federation met in late-October 1991 in a Detroit court, where they bartered for a cash settlement. After the Canucks offered $200,000, Bure stood up in the courtroom to offer an additional $50,000, bringing the total to $250,000. The Soviet officials accepted, and Canucks management paid the full $250,000.[3][32] Bure signed a four-year contract worth a reported $2.7 million with an $800,000 signing bonus soon thereafter.[8] The deal made Bure the Canucks' second highest paid player behind team captain Trevor Linden, who had just recently signed a four-year, $3.7 million contract.[33]

Vancouver Canucks (1991–1999)[edit]

Due to the court proceedings, Bure's Canucks debut in 1991–92 was delayed until a month into the season. Garnering much attention in Vancouver, his first practice with the club on November 3, 1991, was attended by approximately 2,000 fans at Britannia Ice Rink in East Vancouver.[8] He played his first game for the Canucks on November 5, 1991, in a 3–3 tie against the Winnipeg Jets. Despite being kept off the scoresheet in his NHL debut, Bure showcased his talent and speed with several end-to-end rushes, carrying the puck past several defenders from near his defensive zone to the opposing net.[34] Following the game, Vancouver Sun columnist Iain MacIntyre compared him to a rocket, calling him "the fastest Soviet creation since Sputnik". MacIntyre's comments are credited for having laid the groundwork for Bure's moniker as the "Russian Rocket".[35] It took Bure until his third game, a 6–0 win against the New York Islanders, to record his first point, an assist on a Cliff Ronning goal. He scored his first two NHL goals in the next game on November 12 against Daniel Berthiaume of the Los Angeles Kings in an 8–2 win.[36] He scored 34 goals and 60 points in 65 games that season, including 22 goals in his final 23 games. In the last game of the regular season, Bure scored a goal to tie Ivan Hlinka's 1981–82 team mark for most points by a rookie.[37] Bure's addition to the Canucks lineup bolstered a core that featured Linden and goaltender Kirk McLean,[38] a Vezina Trophy nominee in 1989 and 1992 as the league's best goaltender,[39] and helped the Canucks to their first of two consecutive Smythe Division titles.[40]

The Calder Memorial Trophy that Bure won in his rookie season

As the Canucks opened the 1992 playoffs against the Winnipeg Jets, Bure recorded his first NHL hat trick in game six to help force a seventh and deciding game.[41] Vancouver won the series to advance to the second round, but were then eliminated by the Edmonton Oilers. Bure finished his first Stanley Cup playoffs with 6 goals and 10 points in 13 post-season games. At the end of the season, Bure was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year over Detroit Red Wings defenceman Nicklas Lidström.[42] His 60 points were second among first-year players to Tony Amonte's 69 points with the Rangers, although Bure played in 14 fewer games. When accepting the award, he thanked Canucks linemate Igor Larionov for his guidance. On arriving in Vancouver, the former Red Army teammate took Bure into his North Vancouver home for two weeks before Bure moved into his own downtown apartment. The two also roomed together on the road.[43] Bure's Calder Trophy, along with head coach Pat Quinn's Jack Adams Award as the league's top coach, marked the first major individual NHL awards in Canucks team history.[8] Despite being distinguished as the league's top rookie, however, Bure was left off the NHL All-Rookie Team, making him the only Calder recipient to not be named to the lineup. He was left off the All-Rookie Team because he split his time playing both left and right wing. When it came to voting for the players, Bure had the most total votes, but not enough at either position to claim a spot.[44]

Bure improved on his rookie season in 1992–93 for his first of two consecutive 60-goal seasons. In the third game of the season, Bure scored a career-high four goals against the Winnipeg Jets. His three goals and one assist in the second period set a pair of Canucks records for most goals and points in a period, in addition to the team mark for most goals overall in a game (for which he is tied with several players). Furthermore, Bure scored two of his goals on the penalty kill to set a fourth team record for most short handed goals in one contest.[45] Bure appeared in his first NHL All-Star Game that season in 1993, being named to the Clarence Campbell Conference Team as the lone Canucks representative. He scored two goals in his All-Star debut in a 16–6 loss to the Wales Conference.[46] Shortly after the All-Star break, Bure established a new franchise record for goals in a season during a 5–1 win over the Quebec Nordiques, surpassing Tony Tanti's 45-goal mark.[46] The next month, on March 1, Bure reached the 50-goal mark for the first time in his career, scoring against Grant Fuhr of the Buffalo Sabres in a neutral-site game in Hamilton, Ontario. On March 9, Bure recorded two assists in a 7–2 win against the New Jersey Devils to surpass Patrik Sundström's franchise record of 91 points.[47] This record stood until it was broken by Henrik Sedin's 112 points in 2009–10.[48] Bure finished the season with 110 points in 83 games and became the first Canuck named to the NHL First All-Star Team.[49]

Bure began the 1993-94 season with 7 goals and 13 points in 8 games, but then suffered his first career injury on October 23, 1993, pulling his groin in a match against the San Jose Sharks. Despite the injury, Bure was allowed to play the next night against the Sharks. He had to be helped off the ice after his first shift because he re-injured his groin.[50] As a result of the injury, Bure's production the following two months declined substantially. On October 27, 1993, Pat Quinn voiced his opinion, stating in regards to Bure's injury, "groins aren't something you can fool with. You can have a problem all year long. If it actually pops, it could mean a career problem."[51] Bure recorded only four goals between his return on November 14, 1993 and December 19, 1993, a dramatic decline from his near goal-per-game pace throughout that season. Although he missed eight games with the injury and struggled over the next two months, Bure led the league in goal-scoring by repeating his 60-goal feat from the previous season. In doing so, he became the eighth player in NHL history to record back-to-back 60-goal seasons.[52] He concluded the season with a streak of 49 goals and 78 points in his final 51 games, and earned player of the month honors in March 1994 after scoring 19 goals and 30 points in 16 games that month.[53] His March scoring burst was just one point shy of Stan Smyl's 31-point March in 1983 for the most productive month by a Canucks player.[49] Bure's 154 NHL goals at that point in his career put him behind only Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy for the most in any NHL player's first three seasons.[53] As the Canucks struggled to score in the second half of the 1993-94 season, Bure recorded 49 goals in the club's final 51 games and contributed to 46.45% of his team's goals in the final 47 games of the season to carry the Canucks into the 1994 postseason. Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal called Bure "the NHL's best forward the last 40 games, scoring almost a goal a game."[54] Bure played that season with linemates Gino Odjick and Murray Craven.[55][56] The previous season, Bure played with Anatoli Semenov and Greg "Gus" Adams. Pat Quinn acknowledged, in failing to acquire suitable linemates to complement Bure, that he would likely continue to look "for that big, talented centre until the day I die."[57]

Entering the 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the seventh seed, the Canucks went on a run to the Stanley Cup Finals. In the seventh game of the opening round series against the Calgary Flames, Bure scored one of the most significant and well-known goals in Canucks history.[4][58] After receiving a breakaway pass from defenceman Jeff Brown, he deked and scored on Flames goalie Mike Vernon in the second overtime to win the series.[4][58] The Canucks advanced past Calgary with three consecutive overtime wins after having been down 3–1 in the series.[58] In game two of the second round against the Dallas Stars, Bure knocked enforcer Shane Churla to the ice with an elbow to the jaw. The hit came after Bure had been cross-checked from behind by defenceman Craig Ludwig and hit in the head by Churla while he was still on his knees on the ice. Bure also scored two goals in the game to help Vancouver to a 3–0 win. Although Bure was not initially penalized for the play, he later received a $500 fine from the league.[59][60] Bure recorded 6 goals and 8 points in five games against the Dallas Stars, and against the Toronto Maple Leafs the following round scored 4 goals and 6 points in five games. Sports journalist Damien Cox recognized Bure as an emerging, committed playoff performer.[61]

After defeating Dallas in five games, the Canucks eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Campbell Conference Finals to meet the New York Rangers in the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals. With the series tied 1–1, Bure was ejected in game three after delivering a high stick to Rangers defenceman Jay Wells. Bure's stick caught Wells beneath the eye, drawing blood and resulting in a five-minute major and a game misconduct.[62] With Bure out of the game, the Canucks lost the contest 5–1.[59] A 4–2 loss in game four put the Canucks at the brink of defeat in the series. When Vancouver won game five in New York on the strength of Bure's two goals,[63] and game six in Vancouver, the series was pushed to seven games. In the deciding game, the Rangers ended Vancouver's playoff run by a 3–2 score to capture the Stanley Cup. Bure finished with a team-high 16 goals and 31 points in 24 games, second in playoff scoring only to Conn Smythe winner Brian Leetch. Bure's points total also remained the highest by any Russian player until Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins recorded 36 in 2009.[64]

In the subsequent off-season, the Canucks announced they had re-signed Bure to a five-year, US$24.5 million contract on June 16.[65][66] The deal was reported to have been signed prior to game three of the Stanley Cup Finals against New York.[67] It also obtained Bure's marketing rights and put his father, Vladimir, on the team payroll as a fitness and marketing consultant.[65] The average annual salary of US$4.9 million made Bure the league's third highest-paid player, behind Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.[68] Bure and the Canucks had, in fact, entered into contract negotiations at the beginning of the 1993–94 season, although two years remained in his original deal. Neither side could come to an initial agreement; one of the major factors was the Canucks' demands for the contract to be in Canadian dollars on account of the American exchange rate.[69] Numerous accusations were made in the media during the Canucks' playoff run that Bure threatened not to play if a contract could not be agreed upon. A Toronto Star article published before the first game of the Finals on May 31, 1994, claimed that Bure had signed a five-year, US $30 million contract that, if the Canucks had not agreed to, would have seen him pull out of game five of the Conference Finals against the Maple Leafs.[70] The article was followed by two additional claims in the following two days in the Vancouver-based newspaper The Province and Toronto Sun. The Toronto Sun held that the contract was a five-year, US$22.5 million deal, and that it was signed prior to either game six or seven of the opening round against the Flames after Bure's agent, Ron Salcer, told general manager Quinn that Bure would not play if the deal was not made.[71] As the story continued well into the next season, Pat Quinn appeared in a segment on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)'s Hockey Night in Canada with host Ron MacLean on March 27, 1995, publicly denying the claims.[72]

Due to the 1994–95 NHL lockout, Bure spent single-game stints with HC Spartak Moscow of the Russian Super League and EV Landshut of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL). He joined a team of Russian NHL players organized by Slava Fetisov that returned to Russia to play a five-game charity tour against local clubs. On the team, Bure was reunited with former Central Red Army linemates Mogilny and Fedorov.[73] When the NHL Players Association (NHLPA) and owners came to an agreement on January 12, 1995, NHL play was set to resume. However, there were unresolved contract issues, as Salcer claimed that the Canucks promised they would pay Bure's full salary despite the lockout, which cancelled nearly half of the 1994–95 season. Bure held out for four days as a result (the amount claimed to be owing was US$1.7 million), before the two sides reached an agreement that the Canucks would put the disputed amount in escrow and would continue discussions.[74] He soon reported to Vancouver and went on to tally 43 points in 44 games of the shortened season. He spent the season with a rotation of linemates, taking turns being centred by Trevor Linden, Cliff Ronning and rookie Michael Peca. Bure had lacked a consistent linemate since he was centred by fellow Soviets Igor Larionov and Anatoli Semenov in each of his first two seasons.[75] Nevertheless, in the 1995 playoffs, Bure set franchise records for most goals and points in a series with 7 and 12 respectively in a seven-game series victory against the St. Louis Blues (Mikael Samuelsson later tied Bure's goal-scoring record in 2010 against the Los Angeles Kings).[76][77] The Canucks, however, failed to defend their Clarence Campbell Bowl title, being swept by the Chicago Blackhawks in round two. In the fourth and final playoff game against the Blackhawks, Bure left the contest early in the third period with a rib injury.[78] The Canucks' elimination in 1995 marked the last time Bure appeared in the post-season with the club. He finished with a career playoff total of 66 points with the Canucks, including 34 goals, which remained the highest club total until Linden tied the mark in 2007.[79]

Bure's first game-worn Canucks jersey (centre) on display at Rogers Arena (also pictured on either side are Wayne Maki and Glen Hanlon's jerseys).

At the start of the 1995–96 season, Bure changed his jersey number from 10 to 96. The switch commemorated the day on which he first landed in North America from Moscow, on September 6, 1991 (9th month, 6th day). He had originally requested to wear the number when he first joined the Canucks, but was not permitted by head coach Pat Quinn, who did not approve of high jersey numbers.[80] After the Canucks made a deal with the Buffalo Sabres to reunite Bure with Alexander Mogilny, the jersey number was deemed acceptable because of Mogilny's number 89.[81][clarification needed]

Early in the season, Bure sustained the first of what were to be several serious knee injuries during his career. On November 9, 1995, in a game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Bure was grabbed around the head by defenceman Steve Smith while approaching the end boards. Falling to the ice, he caught his skate against the boards, tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee.[82] Requiring arthroscopic surgery, in which tendon was removed from his hamstring to repair the ACL, he was sidelined for the remainder of the season.[83][84] Without Bure, the Canucks managed to make the 1996 playoffs on the strength of an offence led by Linden and Mogilny, but were defeated in six games of the opening round by the Colorado Avalanche, who went on to win the Stanley Cup.

Bure returned to the Canucks lineup with his knee fully recovered in the 1996–97 season. Competing for Russia in an exhibition match for the 1996 World Cup in August, he had suffered another setback with a bruised kidney and was sidelined for three weeks,[85] but was able to recover in time for the NHL season. In the season opener against the Calgary Flames, on October 5, 1996, Bure was pushed into the boards head-first by rookie defenceman Todd Simpson.[86] He continued to play following the hit, though head coach Tom Renney admitted that Bure was still experiencing headaches in the weeks following.[86] As Bure's play dropped early in the season, speculation began that he was playing injured. After Bure went eight games without a goal, Renney claimed that Bure was not playing with a head injury, but instead had injured his shoulder in a game against the New York Rangers on November 23.[87] Nevertheless, Bure continued to play. With under a month left in the season, he received another hit, this time from defenceman Aaron Miller of the Colorado Avalanche during a game on March 3, 1997. He left the game and did not return for the remainder of the season. Afterwards, Bure admitted that he was playing with a neck injury, having sustained whiplash from the first game against Calgary, but did not want to take himself out of the lineup after having missed 62 games the previous season.[88] With Bure's reduced playing capacity, he managed 55 points in 63 games, well below his usual pace, and the Canucks missed the playoffs for the first time since Bure joined the team. In a 2012 interview, Bure admitted having sustained a head injury on the Simpson hit and that "he should not have played through it."[89]

In the off-season, the Canucks made another significant move, signing Rangers captain Mark Messier during free agency on July 26, 1997.[90] Despite finally having a high-profile centre to play with, reports in the media began soon thereafter that Bure was requesting to be traded, starting with an article published by The Province on August 26, 1997, by Tony Gallagher.[91] Bure and the Canucks opened the season with two games against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in Tokyo – an event organized by the league to market hockey for the upcoming 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. After two injury-plagued seasons with the number 96 on his jersey, Bure switched back to his familiar number 10, explaining that "I'm not superstitious, but the last two seasons have been bad memories."[92] Although the Canucks missed the playoffs for the second straight year, he returned his previous form in 1997–98, scoring 51 goals for his first 50-goal season since 1993–94 and third overall. Bure later recalled that with the Canucks out of playoff contention with a handful of games left, head coach Mike Keenan told Bure he could play as much as he wanted in order to reach the milestone. Scoring 50 goals was also implicit in a contract bonus for Bure.[89] With an additional 39 assists, Bure's 90 points ranked him third in the NHL, behind Peter Forsberg and Jaromír Jágr.

Bure scored his last goal as a Canuck, and his 254th with the team, in the final game of the season against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The total left him just eight goals shy of Stan Smyl's all-time franchise record of 262 goals,[93] which was later surpassed by Trevor Linden and Markus Näslund.

Following the 1997–98 season, Bure told newly appointed general manager Brian Burke in a meeting on July 5, 1998, that he would not play for the Canucks again, despite still having a year left in his contract worth USD $8 million.[94] Bure then went public with the declaration the following month, stating that he intended to leave the club for "personal reasons".[95] Bure did not report to the club the following season. He instead went back to his hometown Moscow to practice with his former Central Red Army club. During this time, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko offered Bure a tax-free US$4 million salary to play in Belarus, which Bure turned down.[94]

Florida Panthers (1999–2002)[edit]

Bure held out well into the 1998–99 season until he was traded on January 17, 1999, to the Florida Panthers, with Bret Hedican, Brad Ference, and Vancouver's third-round choice in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft (Robert Fried) for Ed Jovanovski, Dave Gagner, Mike Brown, Kevin Weekes, and Florida's first-round choice in the 2000 draft (Nathan Smith).[96] Talks between general managers Burke and Bryan Murray had begun in late-December, with the two meeting at the 1999 World Junior Championships in Winnipeg.[97] After the trade was completed, Bure explained in a joint-interview with the Toronto Sun and The Province that he felt he was alienated by Canucks management ever since arriving in North America from Moscow. He cited having stayed in Los Angeles for two weeks before any Canucks representative came down to see him, in addition to several bitter contract negotiations. Bure also claimed that the constant allegations of him threatening not to play during the 1994 playoff run were planted by someone within Canucks management.[98]

Meeting the Panthers in New York for a game against the Islanders, Bure debuted with his new club on January 20, 1999. He played on an all-Russian line with Viktor Kozlov and Oleg Kvasha and scored two goals to help the Panthers to a 5–1 win.[99] In his first six games with the club, Bure scored eight goals and three assists for eleven points. Less than a month into his Panthers debut, he suffered a strained right knee while kicking a loose puck during a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on February 5.[100] Despite the injury, the Panthers announced three days later that Bure had signed to a five-year, US$47.5 million deal (with an option for a sixth year at US$10.5 million),[101] the most lucrative in team history.[102]

After being out of the lineup for nearly three weeks,[103] Bure returned to appear in five more games, but was sidelined once more for the rest of the season with a knee injury that he suffered on March 3 after a collision with defenceman Adam Foote in a game against the Colorado Avalanche. After initial arthroscopic surgery revealed that his right ACL was not functioning, Bure underwent further reconstructive surgery on March 29.[104] Due to his holdout from Vancouver and the two injuries in Florida, Bure appeared in just 11 games that season, but managed to record 13 goals and 3 assists for 16 points.

A black ice hockey puck with a white ring encompassing a logo of a panther. There is a silver plaque underneath it.
The puck commemorating Bure's 54th goal of the 1999–2000 season, which combined with Valeri Bure's 35 goals to break Bobby and Dennis Hull's mark of 89 goals by a brother combination in a single season.

In his first full season as a Panther, in 1999–2000, he led the league in goal-scoring to capture his first of two consecutive Rocket Richard Trophies with a 58-goal season. It marked the second time Bure led the league in goal scoring, but his first Rocket Richard Trophy as the award had just been inducted the previous season. Combined with 36 assists, his 94 points came within two of Art Ross Trophy winner Jaromír Jágr as the league's leading point-scorer. His 58 goals and 94 points both set franchise records. Bure helped Florida to a fifth-place finish in the Eastern Conference to earn their first post-season berth in three seasons. They were, however, swept in the opening round by the eventual Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils. It was Bure's final appearance in the NHL playoffs. At the end of the season, he was listed as a nominee for the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's most valuable player. He finished as the second runner-up with 11 first-place votes, behind Jágr (18 first-place votes) and award-winner Chris Pronger (25 first-place votes).[105] He was named to the NHL Second All-Star Team for the first time, finishing second in balloting for right wingers behind Jágr (he also mistakenly received a first-place ballot as a left winger).[105] Bure also finished fourth in balloting for the Lady Byng Trophy as the league's most sportsmanlike player.[105]

Bure was set to make his much-anticipated return to Vancouver to play the Canucks on November 5, 1999, but was instead kept out of the lineup due to a broken finger suffered in a game against the Edmonton Oilers. The injury came after having missed five games to a groin injury, which also kept him out of a home game against the Canucks.[106] During the season, he was also named to the 2000 NHL All-Star Game in Toronto, where he recorded an assist and the 11th hat trick in the history of the All-Star Game. Of Bure's three goals, two were assisted by his brother Valeri, who played on the same line with Bure, along with Bure's Panthers linemate, Viktor Kozlov.[107] Helping lead the World team to a 9–4 victory over North America, Bure was named the All-Star Game MVP.[108]

Bure repeated as league scoring champion in 2000–01 with 59 goals, reaching the 50-goal plateau for the fifth and final time in his career, as well as bettering his franchise single-season goal-scoring record. Without much secondary scoring, however (the second leading scorer on the team was Viktor Kozlov with 37 points),[109] the Panthers missed out on the playoffs, finishing 12th place in the East. Bure set a league record that season by scoring 29.5% of his team's total goals over the course of the season.[96] He was named to the NHL Second All-Star Team, behind Jágr in the right wing position for the second consecutive year.[110]

Prior to the 2001–02 season, the Panthers acquired Valeri Bure from the Calgary Flames in a trade, reuniting the two brothers under the same team.[111] Bure suffered a setback in the pre-season, however, re-injuring his groin.[112] Bure recalled having "good relations" with Panthers management, who often consulted with him on team matters, including the acquisition of his brother.[89] After the season began, he was sidelined for seven games in November and December due to a concussion.[113] He sustained the head injury during a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on November 19, 2001, after he was checked into the glass by forward Darcy Tucker.[114] Several days after returning to the lineup, on December 16, 2001, Bure reached the 700-point mark with two assists and an empty net goal in a 3–1 win over the New York Islanders.[115] At the trading deadline, Bure was dealt to the New York Rangers. During his 56 games for the Panthers that season, he led the team in scoring for the third consecutive season with 49 points.[116]

New York Rangers (2002–2003)[edit]

The New York Rangers acquired Bure on March 18, 2002, along with Florida's second-round pick in the 2002 draft (Lee Falardeau) for Igor Ulanov, Filip Novak, as well as the Rangers' first and second-round choices in the 2002 draft (Petr Tatíček and Rob Globke, respectively) and a fourth-round choice in the 2003 draft.[96] The Rangers had shown interest in Bure when he was originally shopped by the Canucks in 1997.[66] After losing their initial bid for Bure, Wayne Gretzky, who retired the same season Bure was dealt to Florida, announced prior to the 1999–2000 season that he would have extended his career had the Rangers been able to pull the trade off.[101] Bure made his Rangers debut against the Vancouver Canucks the day after his trade on March 19, scoring a goal in a 3–1 loss to his former team.[117] He scored 12 goals and 20 points in 12 games upon being traded, up from his pace with Florida that season. Between the two teams, he finished the season with 34 goals and 69 points.

Bure suffered another knee injury in a 2002–03 pre-season matchup with the New Jersey Devils on September 24, 2002.[118] Combined with a case of strep throat, the injury caused him to miss the first three games of the regular season.[119] Bure returned to the lineup to record 14 goals and 21 points in his first 27 games, including two goals and an assist in his first game back,[119] before suffering a knee-on-knee collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Curtis Brown in a game on December 6, 2002. After undergoing surgery 10 days later, it was revealed that there was no damage to the ACL as previously feared, but instead a tear to the meniscus in his left knee, which was repaired.[120][120] Bure returned that season to appear in 39 games, managing 19 goals and 30 points.

Bure did not play in 2003–04 due to lingering effects of the knee injury, even after two operations.[118] He failed a pre-season physical and was declared medically unable to play.[118] Left with Bure's fully insured US$10 million salary (which would be reimbursed to the team by 80 percent), the Rangers consequently left him unprotected in the NHL's Waiver Draft.[121] He was unclaimed.

Retirement and HHOF[edit]

Bure remained inactive for another season due to the 2004–05 NHL lockout. After the NHL resumed play for the 2005–06 season, Bure announced his retirement from professional hockey at a press conference in Moscow on November 1, 2005, due to complications with his chronically injured knee.[122] In an interview with hockey magazine Puck Life, Bure explained that he did not want to extend his playing career without being able to play at an elite level.[89]

Because Bure had been inactive since the 2002–03 season, he was eligible for selection into the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHOF) immediately following his retirement. After being passed for induction in his first six years of eligibility, Bure was voted in on June 27, 2012, alongside Joe Sakic, Adam Oates and Mats Sundin. He became the fifth Soviet or Russian player (after Vladislav Tretiak, Viacheslav Fetisov, Valeri Kharlamov and Igor Larionov) and the first Canucks player to be inducted into the HHOF.[notes 2][123]

His non-selections in previous years were widely debated in the media.[123][124][125][126] Among the players chosen over him, defensive forward Dick Duff (inducted in 2006) was singled out by Vancouver sports journalist Tony Gallagher in The Province as one Bure deserved recognition over. Often Bure was compared with Cam Neely, a player who also waited six years for induction; Neely recorded similar goals-per-game numbers in a career that was also shortened to 700-plus games.[124] After being passed a sixth time in 2011, Bure's brother, Valeri went public on the Vancouver radio station TEAM 1040, declaring "somebody in the committee probably doesn't like him."[125] It had been often rumoured that Bure's former head coach and general manager in Vancouver, Pat Quinn, who became co-chairman of the HHOF's selection committee, was a proponent against Bure's induction.[125] In a conference call following his selection, however, Quinn was among the most prominent figures he singled out to thank.[123] He also accused the Canucks organization for not yet retiring Bure's jersey.[125]

In his retirement, Bure has remained publicly steadfast in his dissatisfaction with the way he was treated by the Canucks organization during his playing career. Among his claimed disservices, Bure has singled out his arrival in North America after defecting from Russia, in which it took the Canucks organization several weeks to get in contact with him in Los Angeles. Another instance he has mentioned in particular were his contract negotiations in 1994, when it was rumoured that Bure was threatening to sit himself out of the playoffs as leverage. Bure's agent at the time, Ron Salcer, has said he believes the story came from within the Canucks organization. While Bure has admitted to "a lot of disagreements with the Canucks management," he has maintained that he "never had any problems with the Canucks fans."[89]

On November 2, 2013, the Canucks officially retired Bure's #10 jersey.[127][128] One day prior, Canucks Sports & Entertainment announced that the organization's Most Exciting Player Award would be officially renamed the Pavel Bure Most Exciting Player Award in honor of Bure.[129]

International career[edit]

Pavel Bure
An ice hockey player in his early thirties shakes hands with a middle-aged man dressed in a dark suit. The hockey player wears a white, red and blue jersey labeled "РОССИЯ" and holds a hockey stick.
Bure with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a Spartak Cup match between Russia and the Czech Republic on August 14, 2001
Medal record
Ice hockey
Competitor for  Soviet Union
World Championships
Gold 1990 Switzerland
Bronze 1991 Finland
World Junior Championships
Gold 1989 United States
Silver 1990 Finland
Silver 1991 Canada
European Junior Championships
Bronze 1988 Czechoslovakia
Gold 1989 USSR
Quebec Esso Cup
Gold 1988 Canada
Goodwill Games
Gold 1990 USA
Competitor for  Russia
Winter Olympics
Silver 1998 Nagano
Bronze 2002 Salt Lake City

Prior to joining the NHL in 1991, Bure competed in several junior international tournaments for the Soviet Union. The first was the 1988 Quebec Esso Cup, an under-17 tournament (now known as the World U-17 Hockey Challenge) held in Quebec City, where he earned a gold medal.[130] That same year, he competed in his first of two consecutive European Junior Championships.

The following year, Bure debuted at the world under-20 level as a 17-year-old at the 1989 World Junior Championships in Anchorage, Alaska. The top line of CSKA Moscow teammates Bure, Alexander Mogilny and Sergei Federov[12] led the Soviet Union to a gold medal. Bure's eight goals tied him for the tournament lead with Jeremy Roenick of the United States, in addition to a team-high 14 points. He was named to the Tournament All-Star Team and earned Best Forward honours.[96]

Bure competed in his second World Juniors the following year in 1990, winning a silver medal in Helsinki, Finland, while scoring seven goals in seven games. Later that year, he made his senior debut with the Soviet national team as a 19-year-old at the 1990 World Championships in Switzerland.

He scored two goals and four assists in ten games to help the Soviets to a gold medal finish, winning all three games in the medal round. Despite winning the overall tournament, the Soviets finished with a silver in the European Championship, which took into account only games played amongst European teams during the tournament. Nevertheless, each Soviet player was awarded $10,000 for winning the overall tournament, which Bure used to buy a new Lada.[131] Several months later, in July, Bure took part in his third international tournament of the year at the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle. Bure scored four goals and an assist in five games, and the Soviets captured the gold medal by defeating the United States in the final.[132]

In 1991, Bure appeared in his third and final World Junior Championships. Having won their first four games, the Soviets required only a win in their the second-to-last-game against Finland to clinch the gold medal. After the Finns built a 4–0 lead, Bure led a 5-goal comeback in which he scored his team's final three goals for a natural hat trick. Nevertheless, the Soviets gave up a goal in the final minute of the game to set up a gold medal match against Canada.[133]

Although Bure finished the tournament as the leading scorer with 12 goals in 7 games, the Soviets fell to Canada 3–2 to settle for silver. He finished his three-year World Junior career with a tournament-record 27 goals, to go with 39 points, in 21 games.[30] Bure later competed in the 1991 World Championships for his second international appearance of the year. He improved on his previous year's total with 11 points in 11 games, tied for the team lead with Valeri Kamensky, and helped the Soviets to a bronze medal finish. Bure was named to the tournament's Second All-Star Team. The 1991 team marked the last World Championships that the Soviets played as the USSR, giving way to the union's dissolution later that year.[134]

Prior to the dissolution, Bure was set to represent the Soviet Union at the 1991 Canada Cup several months later in Canada. However, after turning down a three-year contract with his Russian club, CSKA Moscow, he was left off the final roster.[8] Further controversy ensued five years later in the inaugural 1996 World Cup (the successor tournament to the Canada Cup). Bure had recently recovered from reconstructive surgery to his right knee and had begun practicing with the Russian national team, when he refused to sign a petition organized by national team veteran Slava Fetisov. With the Russian Ice Hockey Federation dealing with internal corruption, the petition called for the ouster of a select few Russian ice hockey officials. In response, Bure explained, "I do not sign petitions. I believe I should work – play hockey. Petitions to the federation or to Olympic committees do not interest me."[85]

In the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, Team Russia had played five preliminary games in order to set the groupings for the main tournament stage. Russia was the only team that went undefeated (winning against U.S.A (Detroit), Sweden (Stockholm), Finland (Moscow), Germany (Landshut) and tied against Team Canada (Calgary).[135][136][137][138] The U.S.A, Sweden and Finland games saw the pairing line of "Bure-Fedorov-Mogilny", for the first and only time internationally on the senior level,[137][139] and was considered "perhaps the best forward line on earth" at the time.[140] With Bure injured as a result of a bruised kidney suffered in the preliminary game against the United States in Detroit, he would not play in the main tournament.[85]

Two years later, Bure made his Olympic debut with Russia at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano. He helped his team to the gold medal game after an Olympic record five-goal game in Russia's 7–4 semi-final win against Finland, two of which came on breakaways.[122][141] Playing the Czech Republic in the final, however, Bure and the Russians were shut out by goaltender Dominik Hašek and lost the gold medal by a 1–0 score. He finished with a tournament-high nine goals to be named the top forward[42] and, while recording no assists, placed third in point-scoring with nine points in six games.[142]

After the Panthers were eliminated in the 2000 playoffs, Bure was added to the Russian roster for the 2000 World Championships, held in Saint Petersburg. The Russians were not able to make the medal rounds, suffering upset defeats to both Latvia and Belarus. In six games, Bure managed four goals and an assist.

Two years later, Bure made his second Olympic appearance at the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, playing with a fractured hand.[5] Attempting to make his second straight trip to the gold medal game, Bure and the Russians knocked out the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals 1-0, but lost in the semi-finals to the United States by 3–2. Bure finished his final international tournament as a player with two goals and an assist in six games to go with a bronze medal, having defeated Belarus in the bronze medal game.

Upon the announcement of his retirement in 2005, Bure was named Russia's Olympic general manager,[2] succeeding Viacheslav Fetisov.[143] He promised to put an end to the Russian Hockey Federation's history of internal conflict and player boycotts, stating, "You won't see such a mess with the national team that you've seen here before", and that "You won't see grouchy players here anymore. Only those who really want to play for Russia will be called into the team."[2] As general manager, Bure chose the team for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. The Russians failed to win a medal after they were shut out by the Czech Republic in the bronze medal game. Leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, former Soviet national goaltender Vladislav Tretiak was named Bure's successor as Olympic general manager on October 12, 2009.[144]

Over five years later, in December 2011, Bure was announced as one of the 2012 inductees for the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame. He was named alongside American Phil Housley, Finn Raimo Helminen and Czechoslovak Milan Novy in the annual class. The players will be officially inducted in a ceremony in May 2012.[145]

Playing style[edit]

Trained in the Soviet Union under the CSKA Moscow hockey program, Bure's playing style reflected the speed, skill and puck possession that the Soviets held at a premium.[146] The most prevalent aspects of Bure's game were his skating speed, agility, and acceleration, which earned him his nickname as the "Russian Rocket".[1][2] He was able to use his quickness to separate himself from defenders, to retrieve pucks before the opposition could in all zones of the ice, and to skate coast-to-coast on many occasions. In a 1993 NHL coaches poll conducted by hockey writer Bob McKenzie, Bure was named the league's best skater with eight of twenty-one votes, twice as many votes as any other player. One coach noted "Bure has the best combination of speed, agility and balance... He can also use change of speed better than anybody in the league right now."[147] Vancouver Canucks conditioning coach Peter Twist noticed during Bure's rehabilitation period following his first major knee injury in 1995, that his skating style was distinct in comparison to typical North American players. He explained, "Most players skate on their inside edge and push off at a 45-degree angle, but Bure starts on his outer edge and rolls over to his inside edge and pushes back straighter on his stride ... he gets more power and force in his stride to get up to top speed quicker."[148]

Bure's skating was also complemented by his ability to deke out defenders and goaltenders at top speeds, making him capable of routinely starting end-to-end rushes.[1][34] However, several knee injuries and consequent reconstructive surgeries compromised the speed that defined Bure's game, ultimately leading to his retirement in 2005.[2]

Early in Bure's career, he was noted for playing a strong two-way game. Having joined head coach Pat Quinn's defensive-minded Vancouver Canucks in 1991, his transition to the NHL was cited as being much easier than that of his countryman, Igor Larionov, due to his quick adjustment to the team's defensive demands.[149] Regarding Bure's first NHL game against the Winnipeg Jets, reporter Mike Beamish explained that "hockey fans marvelled at his offensive thrusts, but hockey people were taken by a singular display of jet-powered defensive diligence. On one play, after the Canucks were caught deep in the Winnipeg zone, the Russian winger raced back and almost singlehandedly foiled a two-on-one Jets' rush, making up a half-rink disadvantage."[150] Bure was used on the team's penalty kill for his entire tenure with the Canucks, and was proficient at generating shorthanded chances, pressuring the opposition with his quickness and positioning in the defensive zone.[151][152] During the 1992 Stanley Cup playoffs, commentator and ex-NHL coach Harry Neale commented, "I like the effort he gives it when he doesn't have the puck. We all know what he can do when he thinks he can score, but he's killing penalties, he's checking, doing a lot of things."[153] Bure tied for second-place on Bob McKenzie's 1993 coaches poll for the NHL's best penalty killer.[147] He was also voted the league's second-best stickhandler that season and garnered recognition as one of the smartest players in the NHL.[147]

Sports journalists Damien Cox and Stephen Brunt wrote about Bure during the 1994 Stanley Cup playoffs that he was a "two-way dynamo," accounting for "several bodychecks he handed out on the night" and for his defensive abilities as he stayed on the ice in the final minutes of a one-goal playoff match against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They spoke highly of his creativity as well, recognizing him as "someone who sees in his game a world of possibilities that just never occur to others," praising his "sheer elegance and imagination" and characterizing his hockey sense as "ho-hum brilliance from the most explosive player in the sport."[61][154] Brunt called him "a nonpareil, a van Gogh, a Picasso, a Charlie Parker."[154] During the 1993-94 season, Bure demonstrated his strong playmaking abilities, helping linemate and friend Gino Odjick score a career-high 16 goals in a single season, more than twice the number of goals Odjick would score in any other year separated from Bure and doubling his career goal totals up to that point in his career.[55][155] According to teammate Cliff Ronning in 1994, "we play a much sounder game defensively when Pavel's flying, as he was in the first period."[156] Former Canuck Jyrki Lumme spoke of Bure as a player and teammate, "That guy does something spectacular every time... it's frustrating to go against him in practice because he's all over the place. He makes everybody on our team better." In reference to Bure's ability in his time as a Canuck to transition from defense to offense rapidly, anticipate plays and retrieve loose pucks with his explosive skating, Pat Quinn explained after a Canucks victory in Edmonton, "The winning goal was an alert play on Pavel's part. He was positioned well on defence and then he saw that wicked bounce and he turned it into a goal. He's a cut above in those situations. We have nine or 10 others guys who would have probably missed the net." Adrien Plavsic, whose dump-in resulted in the opportunity, stated, "I made the safe play, it took a funny bounce and with his speed he got there first. All I was trying to do was get it in." The Vancouver Sun's summary of the game described that "while Bure's winner displayed his exquisite sense of the dramatic, his second-period assist on Greg Adams' goal was far the more spectacular play. He turned Oiler defenceman Brian Glynn around like a set of revolving doors before feeding Adams in front."[157]

Bure won the Canucks' Most Exciting Player Award, as voted by the fans, a team record five times (tied with Tony Tanti) from 19921995 and once more in 1998. Canucks teammate and captain Trevor Linden, who had played with Bure for seven seasons, said following Bure's retirement, "I don't know if I've ever seen or played with a player that's brought people out of their seats like that."[122] During the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals, New York Rangers coach Mike Keenan, who later coached Bure for one-and-a-half seasons in Vancouver, called him "perhaps the most electrifying forward in the league".[3] On November 1, 2013, the Vancouver Canucks officially renamed the award the Pavel Bure Most Exciting Player Award in his honor.[129]

Bure has been described as a pure goal scorer and is statistically among the top players in NHL history in that regard.[1] In addition to having reached the 50-goal mark in his career five times and the 60-goal mark twice, his .623 goals per game average is third among the top 100 goal scorers in NHL history, behind Mike Bossy and Mario Lemieux.[42] In the 1993-94 season, Bure began the year with 7 goals and 13 points in his first 8 games, and finished the season with a streak of 49 goals and 78 points in his final 51 games, a goal-per-game pace playing with Gino Odjick and Murray Craven, interrupted primarily by a groin injury suffered on October 23, 1993.[51][54] In the final 47 games of that season, Bure scored 29.67% of his team's goals to catapult them into the 1994 Stanley Cup playoffs. NHL veteran Mike Keane, playing with the Montreal Canadiens at the time, called Bure "dangerous... right behind Lemieux and (Wayne) Gretzky. He can zip, he's strong and he can finesse you. A bona-fide superstar." Michael Farber of the Montreal Gazette described Bure as "the most dangerous scorer in the National Hockey League with the continued absence of Mario Lemieux because Bure can beat a defence with his speed, his strength, his mind. Bure isn't a scorer as much as he is a permanent late-night television guest; he is to highlight packages what Terri Garr is to Letterman."[158]

Personal life[edit]

Family[edit]

Four men in suits, two middle-aged and two in their thirties, sit smiling around a glossy wood table. A photographer hovers in the background.
Pavel Bure (second from right) along with his brother Valeri Bure (far right) and Russian Olympic Committee President Leonid Tyagachev (second from left), meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin (far left) on November 14, 2001.

Bure comes from an athletic family; his father Vladimir, who is of Swiss descent (his side of the family originated from Furna, Switzerland),[159] was an Olympic swimmer who competed for the Soviet Union in the 1968, 1972, and 1976 Olympic Games. He won four medals, including a bronze medal for the 100-metre race in the 1972 Games, in which he lost the gold medal by half a second to American swimming legend Mark Spitz.[159] Bure retained his father as his personal trainer well into his playing career, before severing ties with him in 1997.[160] Bure's paternal grandfather, Valeri Bure, also competed for the Soviet Union in the Olympics as a goalkeeper for the national water polo team.[159] Named after their grandfather, Bure's younger brother, Valeri Bure, was also a hockey player, spending 10 years in the NHL. The two siblings played with each other briefly as members of the Florida Panthers, after Valeri was traded there on June 25, 2001, as well as on the Russian national team at Nagano and Salt Lake City in 1998 and 2002, respectively.[161][162][163]

In addition to athleticism, nobility ran in the family. Bure was named after his great-grandfather, a watchmaker to Tsar Alexander III. Bure's family made precious watches for the tsars from 1815–1917; as craftspersons of the imperial family, they were granted noble status.[159] After Bure sustained his first serious knee injury in 1995, he pursued the watchmaking business during his rehabilitation period in an attempt to revive the family business. Fifty replicas of the same watches his ancestors sold to the Russian imperial family were made and priced at US $30,000 each. Bure presented three of the gold replicas to Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Moscow mayor Yuriy Luzhkov.[164]

Relationships[edit]

Shortly after arriving in North America from Moscow with his father and brother on September 6, 1991 (his mother Tatiana arrived two months later),[8] Bure married an American fashion model in a civil ceremony five days later. The model was later revealed to be Jayme Bohn. The marriage was allegedly set up by Bure's agents as a preventative measure against deportation in the event Bure and the Canucks could not come to terms with a contract. Bure derived no immigration benefit from the marriage, which was dissolved the following year. Bohn became a costume designer in the film and television industry. Bure later obtained his permanent residence visa ("green card") as an alien "with extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics".[52][165]

After being linked to girlfriend Dahn Bryan, a model and actress, early in his NHL career,[166] Bure shared a relationship with tennis star and fellow Russian Anna Kournikova. The two met in 1999 when Kournikova was still linked to Bure's former Russian teammate Sergei Fedorov.[167] Bure and Kournikova were reported to have been engaged in 2000 after reporter Andrew Greven took a photo of them together in a Florida restaurant where Bure supposedly asked Kournikova to marry him. As the story made headlines in Russia, where they were both heavily followed in the media as celebrities, Bure and Kournikova both denied any engagement. Kournikova, 10 years younger than Bure, was 18 years old at the time.[168] The following year, Kournikova and Fedorov were married in Moscow.[167] They were soon divorced, however, and Kournikova later entered into a long term relationship with pop star Enrique Iglesias in 2001 after appearing in his music video "Escape."[169]

Bure married 23-year-old model Alina Khasanova on October 10, 2009. Bure and Khasanova had known each other for four years after meeting in Turkey. The wedding was held in Moscow for over 300 guests at a restaurant. Pravda reported the couple had officially married on October 10, 2008, in Miami.[170]

Legal activity[edit]

In 2002, Bure sued the Russian newspaper the eXile for publishing an article stating that he broke up with Kournikova on account of her having two vaginas. Although the newspapers' editorial staff claimed the story was a mere joke, the court ruled in favour of Bure in the amount of 500,000 rubles (US$17,770). Furthermore, the eXile was obligated to print another article refuting the previous story.[171] Two years later, on December 27, 2004, the Russian cosmetics chain Arbat Prestige published a story in their free promotional paper that Bure had bragged about Kournikova losing her virginity to him.[172] Shortly thereafter, on January 31, 2005, Bure sued Arbat Prestige for 300 million rubles (US$10.65 million) in a court in Moscow.[167] He also demanded Arbat Prestige print a retraction and apology in a future paper, similar to the suit against the eXile.[173] The court ruled in favour of Bure in November 2005. The amount was, however, reduced from 300 million to approximately 320,000 rubles.[174]

Nearly a year after his retirement, on October 31, 2006, Bure filed another suit after being kicked off a British Airways flight by the pilot, having been mistaken for a rowdy soccer fan. Despite an official apology from the airline company in June 2007, Bure took the issue to court, suing British Airways for 20 million rubles. In late-August 2007, the Tver Court of Moscow ruled in favour of Bure in the total amount of 67,000 rubles.[175]

Alleged Mafia connections[edit]

During Bure's playing career, much speculation surrounded Russian NHL players and their potential ties to the Russian mafia as both victims and associates. As Soviet players began defecting to the NHL, many cases of extortion began surfacing that the Russian mafia was targeting the players' families still living in Russia. Former teammate Alexander Mogilny was a victim of such an extortion attempt in 1994,[176] while Bure was reported to have made payments totaling in the thousands of dollars to Russian extortionists in 1993.[177] Three years later, however, in 1996, American sports network ESPN aired reports alleging Bure was a potential [clarification needed] associate to the Russian mafia on account of his relationship with friend and business partner Anzor Kikalishvili, known to both Russian and American police as a suspected criminal[178] and possible Russian mob boss. Bure was revealed to hold a position as vice president in the sports company Twenty First Century Association, owned by Kikalishvili, and reportedly believed by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation to be a mafia front worth at least US$100 million in illicit funds. While Bure did not deny his business and personal relationships with Kikalishvili, he refuted reports that Kikalishvili was involved in any criminal activity.[179] Speculation resurfaced in 1999, as Bure was included in an investigation aired by CBC documentary series fifth estate that made several supposed associations between Soviet NHL players and the Russian mafia. An allegation arose that Bure's former Red Army teammate Slava Fetisov used a company of which he was president to launder money for Vyacheslav Ivankov, considered to be the "Russian godfather" in North America. Bure's relationship with Kikalishvili continued to be questioned. Bure denied Kikalishvili's involvement in any criminal activity, dismissing the allegations as "rumours".[178]

Residences[edit]

During his stay with the Canucks, Bure initially lived with teammate and countryman Igor Larionov, who helped him transition in the city of Vancouver. He later moved into his own apartment in Downtown Vancouver overlooking False Creek before purchasing a $1 million, 6,000-square-foot (560 m2) mansion in 1994 on Vancouver's Southwest Marine Drive.[68][180] He spent numerous off-seasons during this time in Los Angeles.[68] Comparing his time in Vancouver and Florida, Bure has recalled playing in the latter city as having more opportunity to "live a normal life...without anyone paying much attention."[89]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

Bolded numbers indicate season/ playoff leader

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1987–88 CSKA Moscow Soviet 5 1 1 2 0  —  —  —  —  —
1988–89 CSKA Moscow Soviet 32 17 9 26 8  —  —  —  —  —
1989–90 CSKA Moscow Soviet 46 14 11 25 22  —  —  —  —  —
1990–91 CSKA Moscow Soviet 44 35 11 46 24  —  —  —  —  —
1991–92 Vancouver Canucks NHL 65 34 26 60 30 13 6 4 10 14
1992–93 Vancouver Canucks NHL 83 60 50 110 69 12 5 7 12 8
1993–94 Vancouver Canucks NHL 76 60 47 107 86 24 16 15 31 40
1994–95 Spartak Moscow RSL 1 2 0 2 2  —  —  —  —  —
1994–95 EV Landshut DEL 1 3 0 3 2  —  —  —  —  —
1994–95 Vancouver Canucks NHL 44 20 23 43 47 11 7 6 13 10
1995–96 Vancouver Canucks NHL 15 6 7 13 8  —  —  —  —  —
1996–97 Vancouver Canucks NHL 63 23 32 55 40  —  —  —  —  —
1997–98 Vancouver Canucks NHL 82 51 39 90 48  —  —  —  —  —
1998–99 Florida Panthers NHL 11 13 3 16 4  —  —  —  —  —
1999–00 Florida Panthers NHL 74 58 36 94 16 4 1 3 4 2
2000–01 Florida Panthers NHL 82 59 33 92 58  —  —  —  —  —
2001–02 Florida Panthers NHL 56 22 27 49 56  —  —  —  —  —
2001–02 New York Rangers NHL 12 12 8 20 6  —  —  —  —  —
2002–03 New York Rangers NHL 39 19 11 30 16  —  —  —  —  —
NHL totals 702 437 342 779 484 64 35 35 70 74

International[edit]

Year Event Place   GP G A Pts PIM
1988 Soviet Union U17 Stats not available
1988 Soviet Union EJC 6 10 0 10 2
1989 Soviet Union WJC 7 8 6 14 4
1989 Soviet Union EJC 6 5 6 11 4
1990 Soviet Union WJC 7 7 3 10 10
1990 Soviet Union WC 10 2 4 6 10
1991 Soviet Union GG 5 4 1 5 -
1991 Soviet Union WJC 7 12 3 15 31
1991 Soviet Union WC 10 3 8 11 2
1996 Russia WCH 0  —  —  —  —
1998 Russia Oly 6 9 0 9 2
2000 Russia WC 6 4 1 5 10
2002 Russia Oly 6 2 1 3 8
(WJC) int'l totals 21 27 12 39 45
(WEC) int'l totals 20 5 12 17 12
(WC) int'l totals 6 4 1 5 10
Winter Olympics 12 11 1 12 10
Senior int'l totals 43 24 15 39 32b

adoes not include 1988 Quebec Esso Cup (U17)
bdoes not include penalty minutes for the 1991 Goodwill Games

Awards[edit]

Soviet[edit]

Award Year
Soviet champion (HC CSKA Moscow) 1988, 1989
IIHF European Champions Cup (HC CSKA Moscow) 1988, 1989, 1990
Soviet Championship League Rookie of the Year 1989

International[edit]

Award Year
World Junior Championship Best Forward 1989
World Junior Championship All-Star Team 1989
World Junior Championship gold medal (Soviet Union) 1989
World Championship gold medal (Soviet Union) 1990
World Championship Second All-Star Team 1991
Winter Olympics Best Forward 1998
International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame 2012

NHL[edit]

Award Year
Calder Memorial Trophy 1992
NHL All-Star Game selection 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001
NHL First All-Star Team 1994
NHL All-Star Game MVP 2000
NHL Second All-Star Team 2000, 2001
Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy 2000, 2001 (led the league in goals in 1994, prior to trophy's creation)
Hockey Hall of Fame 2012

Vancouver Canucks[edit]

Award Year
Most Exciting Player Award 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998
Molson Cup (three-star selection leader) 1992, 1993, 1994, 1998
Cyclone Taylor Trophy (MVP) 1993, 1994, 1998
Cyrus H. McLean Trophy (leading scorer) 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998

Records[edit]

Team[edit]

International[edit]

NHL[edit]

Transactions[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Among players who have played at least 500 games in the modern-era (Original Six era and onwards). Cy Denneny and Babe Dye played in the 1920's.
  2. ^ Mark Messier and Igor Larionov had been previously inducted, but neither played with the Canucks for more than three seasons. Mats Sundin was also voted in on the same day, but had only played half a season with Vancouver.

References[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]