PAVEL BURE: MR. EXCITING

Jason Gregor
November 13 2012 11:13AM

The first time I saw Pavel Bure was at Northlands (now Rexall Place) when he played against Canada's under-17 Team Pacific. I was in the building watching my brother Colin play for Canada, but two minutes into the game Bure stood out. I remember literally hating the Russians before the game started, however, as the game went on I couldn't take my eyes of off Bure. 

I'd never seen a player skate like him. After the game Colin and I talked about how ridiculously fast and explosive Bure was. My brother was an excellent skater, when he went to NHL camps he was one of the quickest, but he said Bure was on a different level. His first few steps were the quickest I'd ever seen, and he was so fast it seemed he could accelerate even when skating laterally. I was 14 years old when I saw Bure for the first time, and it wasn't until four years later that he surfaced again in the NHL. When he joined the Canucks he was even more exciting than I recalled that cold night at Northlands.

Bure was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame yesterday, a few years too late if you ask me, and during his highlight reel I pondered if I'd seen a more exciting player in the last 30 years. I'm not suggesting Bure was better than Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux, of course not, but as a pure electrifying and dazzling player, there are few who could compare.

I mentioned it briefly on twitter and some suggested Gretzky, Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr were more exciting. I politely disagree. They were all better, no doubt, but they didn't possess Bure's speed, agility or quickness. Of all the great, exciting players I've seen in my life, none were more exciting to me than Bure.

This video is just a glimpse of his greatness.

His ability and skill-set at high-speed is what made him so great. Some other players that I'd put in his category from the past few decades include Denis Savard, Alex Ovechkin, Teemu Selanne, Paul Coffey and for a brief time Alex Mogilny. It is hard to define exciting, because many will say Gretzky has to be at the top of the list. Gretzky was more of a surgeon for me. He could beat you with his brain just as much as his skill, but rarely did he overpower you with blazing speed or a quick release.

Liam McGuire, hockey historian, from Ultimate Hockey responded on twitter with, "I saw Guy Lafleur and Gilbert Perreault. Both were unreal. Bure a great call from last 30 years." He also mentioned Bobby Orr, Maurice Richard and Howie Morenz.

@hockeylegends tossed in another great from years past, Bobby Hull. He literally scared opposing goalies and players with his shot, and his ability to release it in flight.

There are few players who consistently bring you out of your seat. I'd argue that Nail Yakupov and Taylor Hall will be more exciting than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. It won't mean they will be better or more productive; they just have a bit more of an exciting/dazzling edge to their game.

Who else would you put in the category of electrifying during the past 30 years?

HALL OF FAME

Every year I look forward to watching the speeches of the greatest players who've ever played the game. Adam Oates' speech last night was one of the best. He had no cue cards, and spoke from the heart. His line to his wife was awesome, "We met near the end of my career. I wish we could have met a little sooner so you could have seen that I was little bit better of a player." A subtle jab at himself while trying to hold back the tears. Excellent stuff.

See the entire speech here.

NEXT YEAR

And now the debate begins regarding who should get in next year.

Unlike baseball, players need to be nominated to get on the ballot, but you can expect that Scott Niedermayer and Chris Chelios will have no shortage of people willing to recommend them for the HHOF.

Niedermayer is a lock to get in. He overcame spending summers with his cousin Jason Strudwick, they clearly went to different power skating camps, to become one of the best players of his era. One of the top-three skating defencemen to ever play, Coffey and Orr, Niedermayer was a joy to watch.

While Niedermayer was universally loved, Chelios was universally hated by every opposing fan base. He had the rare combination of greatness and agitator. Few star players were as mouthy or as outwardly cocky as Chelios was on the ice, but few competed as hard as he did. He should go in on his first ballot.

Brendan Shanahan didn't go in this year because they only allow four players, but he's 13th all-time in goals, 656, and 25th all-time in points, 1,524. He is the only player in NHL history with over 600 goals and 2,000 PIMs. He should go in.

THE FINAL SPOT

The fourth spot, if they choose to fill it, will be contested by the likes of Eric Lindros, Rob Blake, Sergei Makarov, Paul Kariya, Jeremy Roenick, Curtis Joseph and Dave Andreychuk.

If I was voting it would be between Lindros and Makarov. Keep in mind it is the Hockey Hall of Fame, not the NHL Hall of Fame, and Makarov never came to the NHL until he was 31. In 11 seasons in Russia he tallied 303 goals and 678 points in only 465 games. He was one of the best players in the world for a decade; he just wasn't playing in the NHL. It is virtually impossible to compare him to those in the NHL because he never played there, but when you saw him play against Canada you could see how great he was.

Lindros exclusion into the Hall seems more about his personality and his overbearing parents, than it does his on-ice ability. He clearly burned a few bridges during his career, but his worthy of getting in. He is 19th all-time in points-per-game at 1.138 with 865 points in 760 games.

For a three year span he was the best player in the game, 1994-1996 and if it wasn't for injuries he likely would have been in the top-30 scorers of all-time.

Which four would you vote in for 2013?

RECENTLY BY JASON GREGOR

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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I totally agree on Bure. Definitely the most exciting to watch, especially his first few seasons. I always have this argument with my buddies. We're all Oiler fans and I get hammered for even suggesting that Bure was more exciting than Gretzky. The way I saw it, Gretzky and Lemiuex, when you watch them, you can see them develop the play and you knew they were gonna do something awesome. When the play was over, you were like "man that was awesome! are you kidding me?"

WIth Bure, there was no set up. It was like BAM! And you're like "WTF just happenned?"

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#2 oops
November 13 2012, 11:22AM
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nope

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#3 Archaeologuy
November 13 2012, 11:36AM
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Either give the last spot to Andreychuk or give it to a builder.

Personally, I dont think they should have to induct 4 players into the Hall every year. I dont know if Kariya belongs there. Roenick definitely doesnt and Cujo doesnt even make it with the Maple Leaf bump.

But most importantly, I hope Lindros never makes it into the Hall of Fame unless they re-do Scott Stevens' plaque to portray him destroying #88.

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#5 mayorpoop
November 13 2012, 12:14PM
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i'm torn between wishing the credentials necessary to make it to HHOF were a lot stiffer, and just letting it be what it is - part popularity contest and part very good skill required.

i think the word greatness is to haphazardly thrown about. many members were never great but really good. imo.

should dominance of a career in a specific era be important or dominance of the game as a whole?

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#6 Smokey
November 13 2012, 01:22PM
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Can't believe Makarov is not in the HOF. Is that the case for Larionov and ol Kruton too? The KLM line was greatest most dynamic line hockey ever saw for a decade, and they struck fear in the hearts of their opposition like no other. Thats a travesty.

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#7 Smokey
November 13 2012, 01:27PM
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Now at least the Casucks have a player worthy of sticking in the rafters besides all those 3rd liners up there. Pavel Bure was the best Canuck ever...

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#8 stevezie
November 13 2012, 01:30PM
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@Archaeologuy

Do you have an arguement against Lindross beyond "I don't like him"? Now, I think someone being a bad person is a decent reason for exclusion, but after Cicarelli got in I think you have a hard time excluding the Big E.
He redefined the position, is THE prototypical hockey player and successfully put it together for a few years before injuries destroyed him. Bruce McCurdy made a pretty good arguement that his junior career alone is enough to get him in. Say what you want, the guy is famous. Isn't that the primary qualification?

EDIT: Everything Gregor said about Bure is true. Can't believe it took that long for him to get in.

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#9 Archaeologuy
November 13 2012, 01:42PM
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@stevezie

I tell you what, in a world where Sundin is a first ballot Hall of Famer, Lindros will one day be in there. That said, he went in like a Lion and out like a Lamb. His career wasnt long enough, it wasnt consistent enough, and he finished with under 1000 points.

The thing, the only thing, he has going for him is the fact that he took home some league hardware and for a brief time was the best player in the world.

If that's all that counts then I look forward to seeing Vezina, Hart, and Masterton trophy winner Jose Theodore one day enter the hall of fame as well.

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#10 stevezie
November 13 2012, 02:32PM
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@Archaeologuy

YOu have a point with Theodore, but even Lindros' non-peak years were good. He was a seven time all-star. His career PPG is excellent. His international record is all-world. He changed the position. He changed the draft. He changed contract rules. He changed trade rules. True he did some of these things before ever playing a game, but that's because he was one of the most accomplished junior players the world had ever seen.

His career was ultimately dissapointing, but only if compared to what "might have been". Standing on its own it compares very favourably to the careers of Bure, Neely and Lafontaine. Clearly the Hall looks favourably upon guys whose career numbers were cut short by injury. Good news for Forsberg and Kariya too.

Not first ballot? Agreed. I think he belongs.

No argument on Sundin.

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#11 Harlie
November 13 2012, 04:55PM
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He made a lot of pylons out there

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#12 ChillyConCarnival
November 13 2012, 05:39PM
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Bure was my favorite player as a kid, I even hand-wrote him a letter when I was younger and asked for an autographed card, which of course he sent back. I want to get an autographed jersey and put it in a nice display case. What a player! Just too bad it was cut short by injury.

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#13 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
November 13 2012, 07:01PM
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if bernie federko can get into the HHOF, eric lindros should be a no brainer.

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#14 The Soup Fascist
November 13 2012, 11:02PM
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While I see Arch's point that Lindros was not in the league long I would counter he was one of the most dominant players in the league for almost four years. Combination of size and skill not seen before. Good enough for me considering some of the sleds they have let in.

BTW. Might as well let Bonnie in too before she starts stamping her feet.

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#15 The Beaker
November 14 2012, 07:34AM
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ChillyConCarnival wrote:

Bure was my favorite player as a kid, I even hand-wrote him a letter when I was younger and asked for an autographed card, which of course he sent back. I want to get an autographed jersey and put it in a nice display case. What a player! Just too bad it was cut short by injury.

Hmmm i remember my cousin, who grew up in BC and was a huge huge huge cancuck/bure fan asking for an autograph in person one day. The response basically was "it costs $_______ kid."

Now maybe its just an old fuzzy memory and that isnt quite right but that impression always stuck with me because my cousin, who is only a few years older than me but who i looked up to, became a bit disenfranchised with Bure.

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#16 Badger
November 14 2012, 07:47AM
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I remember my favorite Bure moment. On a crappy Canucks team in 1997, he ripped Patrick Roy for a hat trick. If I remember right, all 3 goals (well, at least 2) were break-away 5-hole goals that made Roy look like my midget B goalie. Just a random December game. I also loved when he threw that sweet elbow on Churla. I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have been passing the concussion tests of nowadays.

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#19 Archaeologuy
November 14 2012, 08:45AM
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@Jason Gregor

I have no objection to Neely not being there. Lindros will get there eventually, it has to happen. I'm just not as in love with his career as others.

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#20 Spydyr
November 14 2012, 05:38PM
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Shanahan should have been there this year over Sundin.

The only thing Sundin had going for him more than Shanahan was that he played in the center of the universe.

Shanny would be on my team over Sundin everyday of the week.

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