Russian Rocket deserves his spot in Hockey Hall of Fame

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On Nov. 12, former Canucks icon Pavel Bure was finally given a spot in the prestigious Hockey Hall of Fame after six years of being passed up by the selection committee. Despite being inducted alongside NHL legends Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin and Adam Oates, hockey fans may still denounce the Russian, citing his lack of career longevity and Stanley Cups. But one place where this won’t be the case is here in B.C., where Bure once thrived as a prominent member of the Vancouver Canucks.

Bure was chosen by the Canucks 113th overall in the 1989 entry draft and went on to win the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year in 1992. Bure followed up his stint as a rookie with back-to-back 60-goal seasons, the latter of which saw the Canucks storm into the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals and lose narrowly in seven games to the New York Rangers.

Had the Canucks won that historic game seven in Madison Square Garden and hoisted the Cup, I believe Bure’s career would be perceived differently. Today, his legacy as a hockey superstar remains a platform for debate. There are those who believe injuries derailed his career, and then there are those of us who stubbornly still believe Bure is the best thing to happen to the NHL since the Zamboni was invented.

I am hopeful that his induction into the Hall of Fame will conclude the debate on Bure’s worth as a hockey player, but sadly I know that even this great honour won’t provide closure for some of his most resolute nonbelievers. To those people, I say, look at the facts.

In 702 career games, Bure registered 779 points, including 437 goals. That puts him fifth in NHL history in terms of goals-per-game, two spots behind the legendary Mario Lemieux. Despite several knee operations throughout his career, Bure still managed to make an all-star appearance five times and play for two Olympic teams.

True, Bure never won a Cup, but it wasn’t for lack of effort. Bure carried the city of Vancouver on his back for the 1994 Cup run, amassing 31 points in 24 games. If it weren’t for Bure, the team never would’ve reached the finals. In the 15-plus years since, the Canucks have yet to claim the ultimate prize.

Stats and accolades were a huge factor in finally getting Bure into the Hockey Hall of Fame, but they are only part of what makes him great. I can still remember stepping into the Pacific Coliseum as a child, naïve of the world around me. All I cared about were the 30 or so players down on the ice wearing pitch-black jerseys with red and yellow trim and big skate logos: The Vancouver Canucks. I was ready to be awed. One Canuck quickly stood out more than the others. His strides were pure and effortless. His shot was precise and deadly. I found myself only following number 10 every time he was out on the ice. I was hooked.

Pavel Bure instilled in me a love of the game I’ve now played for over 15 years. That is why Bure is worthy of the Hall of Fame: not only because of his incredible stat line or his jet-like speed, but also because of that feeling he fostered in not only myself, but countless hockey fans all over the world.

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