Pavel Vladimirovich Bure (Russian: Па́вел Влади́мирович Буре́, IPA: [ˈpavʲɪl buˈre]; born March 31, 1971) is a retired Russian professional ice hockey right winger. Nicknamed "The Russian Rocket" for his speed, 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", 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, then helped the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1994. 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 (he also led the league in goal scoring with Vancouver in 1993–94, 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. 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 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. Bure was later recognized for his international career as a 2012 inductee in the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame.
Last November the 42-year-old, who tallied 478 points (254-224-478) in 428 games played in Vancouver from 1991-1998, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, this past April Pavel’s wife Alina gave birth to their first child, Pavel, and Tuesday night the Canucks announced Bure’s No. 10 will be raised to the rafters at Rogers Arena as part of a jersey retirement ceremony during the 2013-14 season.
“I haven’t really thought about all that, it’s been a good year,” laughed Bure, who toured Vancouver with Canucks.com Tuesday. “It has been a really good time and it’s all just happened pretty much in the last 12 months. My point of view has always been you just do best what you can and whatever happens happens. A lot has happened in last 12 months, but it’s not up to me, I’m just glad it happens.”
The jersey retirement announcement was made during the Canucks’ Summer Summit and Bure was on hand to discuss the honour. He was once again welcomed with open arms by Canucks fans, as he was last April when he watched Vancouver route Edmonton 4-0 and was treated to a standing ovation.
Bure, who was drafted by the Canucks 113th overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft and still holds franchise records for most points scored by a rookie (34-26-60 in 65 games played in 1991-92) and most shorthanded goals (24) and also ranks in the top five in franchise history in game-winning goals (32), goals and hat-tricks (9), finds it difficult putting into words what it means to be recognized by the Canucks this way.
“It will for sure be one of the moments of my life,” said the native of Moscow, Russia, visiting Jericho Beach Tuesday. “It’s a huge honour, it’s one of those things that I never even dreamed about when I started to play hockey. Even when I was playing hockey for the Canucks I remember Stan Smyl was getting the same ceremony and it still didn’t even cross my mind in those days that one-day I’d be there. Fortunately good things have happened and it’s a big thing.”
Bure arrived in Vancouver Monday and departs Wednesday because of a tight schedule back home, not to mention daddy duty, but he managed to take in the sights Tuesday starting at the Pacific Coliseum, current home of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, former home of the Vancouver Canucks.
The smile Bure sported as he stood where centre ice would be were the Coliseum not prepping for SuperDogs at the PNE in August, was similar to the grin he had when his name was announced in the Canucks starting line-up for the first time on November 5, 1991.
As we toured the building, including the dressing room, Bure, accompanied by former teammate and longtime friend Gino Odjick, reminisced about the good old days; no matter what the story, Bure always found a way to circle back to what meant most to him during his time in Vancouver: the fans.
“I think it was a great relationship,” Bure said with pride, “they always supported me right from my first practice, before my first ever game even. That first practice here, there were so many people, they always supported me and I always tried to give them back whatever I could. During the game I tried to score goals, outside the game sometimes I was staying outside of Pacific Coliseum for two hours because there were so many people who wanted an autograph or picture, I would get home at 1 o’clock sometimes after games. We really had a great relationship.
“Fans are the most important people in hockey, that’s who we play for. I was always saying that it wouldn’t be fun for us as hockey players if we were playing in front of empty stands. There were always so many people in the stands and their support was great, even sometimes when they get angry at you if you lose a game, but that’s normal. They love hockey in Vancouver.”
Bure admitted he was very fortunate to begin his NHL career, which also included stops in Florida and New York, in Vancouver, as the city and fans helped ease his difficult transition from living and playing in Russia to the NHL and Canada.
The final stop of the afternoon for Bure was the Canucks Team Store where he scooped up a handful of Bure shirts and hats for family and friends. He also took home an infant’s Canucks jersey for Pavel, who, if my math is correct, could follow in his dad’s footsteps and suit up for the Canucks in 2031.
While that would make daddy Pavel happy, baby Pavel will choose his own path.
“Obviously I’m going to do what I can to force him in the right direction, but he’ll have to decide himself what he likes to do and what not. I’ll give him direction and if he’s going to be athlete, great, if he’s going to be a hockey player, perfect. As long as he’s going to be a good person though, I’ll be happy with that.”
There’s no stopping the Russian Rocket, he’s clearly hitting his stride like never before.