Pavel Bure ceremony: 4:00pm PDT, CBC
Game puck drop: 4:20pm PDT, CBC
Enemy territory: Pension Plan Puppets (you don't know gamethreads until you've been there)
The Canucks finish a homestand tonight against the visiting Maple Leafs, who have tied with Pittsburgh for top spot in the East so far this year. A shocker, isn't it? Of course, the hype of having the Leafs in town is quelled by something bigger on the Vancouver end: a long-awaited jersey retirement.
At the time I was born, the controversial draft pick by Vancouver in 1989 for a young Russian hockey player had still not been fully resolved. A few international exhibition games proved to be the difference in Pavel Bure's eligibility to be selected in the later rounds of that draft, and the rest of the league cried wolf when the Canucks pounced on the chance. After many issues with draft eligibility, contract legality, and getting him out of Russia, Pavel played his first NHL game on November 5 1991.
The "Russian Rocket", as he was dubbed in his first game, would win the Calder Memorial Trophy that year as the league's best rookie, making him the first Canuck player to receive a major NHL award. He would follow with two consecutive 60-goal seasons and a few franchise records, as well as playing a major role in the 1994 Stanley Cup run. Although he would technically earn the "Rocket" Richard Trophy a few years before it came into existence, he would earn it twice with the Panthers.
Pavel Bure also has an impressive international resume, receiving multiple medals of all colours while representing Russia in the international championships. He won gold in the 1989 World Juniors and the 1990 World Championship, as well as Olympic silver in Nagano (1998) and bronze in Salt Lake City (2002). He was inducted into the IIHF Hall Of Fame in 2012, and later became the 5th Soviet player and 1st Canucks player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall Of Fame in Toronto.
Despite the tenuous relations there may have been between parties over the years, it is about damn time we honour this player. Pavel Bure was the first Canucks star player to play so well, break so many records, and earn such respect for his play.
Congratulations, Pavel, and coconuts go!