HHOF Profile: Pavel Bure

The NHL is a very international league that has players from many different countries around the world. The two nations that see the most players are the USA and Canada who both boast large numbers of players. These two countries also make-up two of the biggest and best hockey nations in the world but there is one other nation that boasts a great hockey tradition. The Russians do not make up a major part of the NHL but they are and have been some of the best players in the NHL. They have never been a large part of the players in the NHL but they do provide some of the best highlights and the most exciting play in the NHL. They may not have played everyone’s favorite style of hockey but there is no denying that it is exciting. They are now a major part of NHL hockey despite low numbers but at one point the Russia influence had no place in the NHL. It was not that they never wanted them but more that Russians were not allowed to leave the communist controlled USSR to pursue a career in the NHL. Instead they stayed in professional clubs in the USSR and played for the Red Army team, USSR’s national team. For years the top talent in the USSR would be hidden behind the Iron Curtain and not allowed to adventure in to the world of the NHL. That was until the late 1980s when the USSR began freeing up their rules and more players began defecting to the USA or Canada to begin playing in the NHL. It all began with players like Sergei Makarov, Igor Larionov, and Sergei Federov who began coming to North America to play and made massive impact in their new league. A part of this first generation of great Russian players was Pavel Bure who came to the USA as one of the first major Russian stars and helped to open the door for young Russian stars to make their way to the NHL.

Players in the USSR were surrounded by a lot of mystery as nobody really knew if they were as good as everyone said. Only getting to see them at international play was a problem for many teams but for the Vancouver Canucks it was enough to take a chance on the young forward nicknamed the “Russian Rocket.” Bure was drafted in the 6th round of the 1989 NHL entry draft after years playing the Russian System. As a member of the powerhouse CSKA Moscow professional team and the Red Army team Bure had built a reputation for himself. He was considered one of the fastest players in the world with a knack for scoring goals. Still it was a risk for the Canucks as they drafted him and were not allowed to talk to him due to the Russian government denying them access. After years of trying the Canucks finally were able to get Bure to come to North America in 1991 and began contract negotiations. After negotiations that saw the Canucks pay CSKA Moscow $250,000 just to negotiate a $2.7 million deal with Bure the Russian Rocket would finally step on to NHL ice. With so much hype surrounding Bure there was a lot to live up to but it did not seem to affect Bure. In his first game Bure was held without a point yet still impressed everyone with his ability to handle the puck. Bure would continue to impress winning the Calder Cup in 1991 along with becoming the first Canuck to be named to the All-Star game in 1992 and earning back to back 60 goal seasons (1992-93 & 1993-94). Bure had an amazing career where he would be a goal scoring threat for years but eventually the physical style of the NHL caught up to him. He would suffer a number of injuries that limited his career to only 702 games. Bure did not have a long career but he had a great one as he led the charge for Russian players in the NHL and that is why he will be entering the Hall of Fame this year.

Pavel Bure, RW (1991-2003)
Vancouver Canucks (4 seasons)
702 GP
437 G
342 A
779 pts
Calder Memorial Trophy (1992)
Maurice “The Rocket” Richard Trophy (2000, 2001)
NHL All-Star (1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001)
NHL All-Star Game MVP (2000)
Also played for Florida Panthers and New York Rangers

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