June 16, 2010

Hall of Fame Worthy? Pavel Bure

Pavel Bure was a one trick pony. But he was the most electrifying pony of his era doing the most important trick in the game. Is that enough to get him into the Hockey Hall of Fame? I say yes, and I think it will happen in 2010.

I consider Bure to be in the same category as Eric Lindros. Injuries shortened his career far too early. Had he been healthy he could have attained career numbers that would have assured he would have been inducted into the Hall already. Back to back 60 goal seasons, as well three other 50 goal seasons including seasons of 58 and 59 goals. Injuries robbed us of one of the greatest players of our generation.

His period of dominance is not all that dissimilar from the great Guy Lafleur, who similarly dominated hockey for six otherworldly seasons and otherwise had a solid career in terms of offense. Obviously Lafleur's resume is much more decorate, with all those Stanley Cups and scoring titles and MVP awards, but how much of that was due to the team he was on? Bure, for the most part, was a lone scoring hero on some average to good teams. And his offensive mastery came in the Dead Puck Era. Imagine Bure nowadays in the obstruction-crackdown era.

Pavel Bure, like Lafleur, was one of those rare players that could get the fans out of their seats on any given shift. I don't think Wayne Gretzky even had the same excitement level as the Russian Rocket. Bure was a transcendent talent with a flair for the dramatic. Watching Bure play was an event onto itself.

Ultimately, Bure is the opposite of Dave Andreychuk or Dino Ciccarelli or even Hall of Famer Mike Gartner. Those guys were real good for a real long period of time, but never dominant players of their era. Does that equal greatness? Whereas Pavel Bure was great, but for a short period of time and never had the longevity to achieve the career numbers he should have. Does that mean he should be excluded?

There is some off-ice mysteriousness about Bure that raises questions about character. And his ugly departure from Vancouver won't help either. I'd actually be very interested to see what Pat Quinn has to say about Bure's induction possibility. No man had more insight into Bure's career than Quinn, but they also had a fractured relationship.

We may not know what Quinn has to say about Bure being a Hall of Famer at least until the day it is announced he is inducted. But the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee will certainly hear the Big Irishman's thoughts on the Russian Rocket. Quinn is the committee's co-chair. I suspect Quinn's influential presence will directly sway the Bure vote.


TS said...

Having been lucky enough to see Pavel Bure in action in person as well as on TV, I can say that one of sport's most time-honoured cliches applies to Bure as to very few others: "Every time he touches the puck he pulls the fans out of their seats."
I'll never forget sitting five rows up midway between the blueline and the goal line and seeing a puck bounce off the boards and land flat about a foot on the goal line side of the faceoff dot. Bure was on the boards just at the hashmark. He took one stride and snapped the puck as it landed over the goalie's left shoulder into the 1" by 3" space that wasn't covered just where the crossbar and post meets. The best word to describe the shot was "zing". They called him the Russian Rocket for his blazing speed, likewise "Blure", but his wristshot was rocket blur as well.
In the long list of players whose career ended way to soon, Bure should be near the top.
HOF worthy? To me, yes. The skill he displayed at an amazing speed was a rare thing.

rockfish said...

I still remember after his first game with the Canucks, where he went end-to-end a couple of times and created a buzz in the crowd whenever he jumped over the boards, how Bernie Pascall virtually lambasted him over the highlights (not verbatim) 'He's got all that speed but he better learn how to finish!' -- apparently he did learn how to finish.
He was a treat to watch and deserves to be the first Vancouver Canuck star voted into the HOF.

Anonymous said...

I watched Bure play for many seasons and his speed and goalscoring were electrifying. Ultimately, however, his play was not hallworthy - not even close. He simply doesn't have the career numbers for admission. Sure, his career was cut short by injuries, but you can say the same for Adam Deadmarsh. Once you eliminate career numbers as a criteria for admission to the hall, you open the door for one season wonders like Jimmy Carson or Jonathan Cheechoo or . . . (a very comparable player in many ways) Alexi Yashin. Add to Bure's weak career numbers his lack of cup rings and his unquestionably poor character and general absence of sportsmanship - e.g., the blindside elbow to Churla, holding out on the Canucks for half a season and (worst of all!!!) demanding a trade during the playoffs - and I think the conclusion is unavoidable. There is no place for Bure in the HHOF.

Joe Pelletier said...

Interesting responses, and I agree with both sides. Even though I think Pavel Bure very possibly will get into the Hall, I still think Trevor Linden was the better Canuck. And Linden will never get into the Hall.

Bure made a big impact in Florida and internationally as well. And he was a special talent - maddening at times - but a wonderful, rare, talent.

Geoff_9 said...

Interesting points Joe. I always like reading your blog.

I think "Fame" goes beyond the mere numbers ... and maybe even the talent of a player. Looking at some recent selections, I think the Hall of Fame looks at other intangibles of success when admitting a player.

Hockey is a TEAM sport — and sometimes during a long season — attitude become just as important (and maybe more so) than talent for a winning franchise.

Consistently, "Me" attitudes that refuse to accept a team role and responsibility won't find themselves on championship teams.

Mario Lemieux learnt this intangible during the 87 Canada Cup. From this lesson he leapt from mere "talent" to "fame."

"We" attitudes win team championships.

Looks no further than Detroit in 2001-02. All that talent + "We" team attitude=championships.

I'd rather have Hull scoring 30 goals and helping win a Stanley Cup on my team instead of the 72 goal super star from the previous decade.

Another case in point — that same year (2001-02) the NY Ranger team with Lindros, Nedved, Fleury, Bure, Messier were below .500 and failed to make the playoffs again.

I remember watching these "talented" "ME" attitudes on TV during Hockey Night in Canada and LOVING to see them get trounced by "less talented" "WE" attitude teams.

This is why I consider a team player like Joe Nieuwendyk more deserving of "fame" than a Pavel Bure or Eric Lindros.

After all, hockey is a team sport. And the best players should be able to make their team mates better.

Unknown said...

Over 400 goals in 700 games with over 700 points? I think this guy deserves a place in HOF. "Fame", in my opinion, is not only about team...Bure was "famous" for scoring goals. And he was ultimately the best goal scorer in the NHL (he proved it in FLA with 59 and 58 goal seasons, when Panthers were on the bottom of the list. True, he is not a team player, but he is famous for scoring, therefore, he has “fame”. Talking about numbers….437 goals in just 702 games is HOF status, in MY opinion. Question, can you win games without goals? Teams need players like him, the ones who struggle scoring. Russian Rocket has FAME, he is the one and only, and unfortunately, I don’t think there will be any player like him. Ovechkin comes close, but not close enough heh

hippomancy said...

I saw Bure play in Vancouver, and while he was indeed electrifying with the puck when moving, if he was stopped up, he was unwillinging to share. The way to stop Vancouver became simple. Let Bure get the puck, then block him. He won't pass. Linden far better deserves HHOF consideration, and the locker room buzz about him that reached outside was how good he was both on and off the ice. Never heard that about Bure. Maybe one trick pony Hall of Fame. Not Hockey's shrine.

Unknown said...

Bure was absolutely great player.A lot of people're mentioning Trevor Linden for the right reasons(him and Bure and the goalie were the main reasons Vancouver went to game 7 in 1994 Stanley Cup final), but noone posessed Pavel's speed(he wasn't called Russian Rocket for nothing) and ability to make great plays with the great speed.This is truly recognizing the greatness even thoght he had his career cut short due to injures

Unknown said...

Anonymous says that Bure numbers are not even close for HOF, then please explain why Cam Neely with worse
numbers: 726G-694 points is in the HOF?
perhaps because he has less talent but more of a work ethics?