A Bure Brouhaha

Silence speaks volumes.

That’s how the old saying goes, and with the news coming out today that Pavel Bure is going to be a Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, the Vancouver Canucks decision not to say anything for three and a half hours regarding Bure’s induction is suspicious to say the least.

Especially since the Florida Panthers have been seemingly tweeting non-stop about the induction since it was announced.

Click past the jump for a look at the history between the Canucks, and their first real Hall of Famer…

First off, Bure’s induction simply makes sense. There’s been no player since Bure that could match his speed, his ability to handle the puck or his raw talent as a player. There’s a reason why his nickname is evocative of Maurice Richard…

He was the Canucks first rookie of the year in 1992, was the Canucks first megastar player (I love Smyl and Linden just as any other Canucks fan would and should, but they were nowhere near the level that Bure was at), won the Rocket Richard trophy twice in his career and topped 60 goals twice in his career as well.

Simply put, Bure has the credentials to be in the HHOF.

So why the online snub from the Canucks organization?

The easiest explanation is that whoever mans the Canucks website and Twitter account was simply having a late lunch, an extended meeting, their iPhone had died or some other innocent folly or miscue. Unfortunately, several hours in to the announcement the idea that the Canucks were merely asleep at the switch becomes less and less likely.

Especially with the very unethusiastic Tweet they did end up sending out.

Especially when the account goes straight back to talking about Canucks imagery and cement.

Dan Murphy theorized over his Twitter account that the snubbing of Bure on Twitter may be related to the fact that Pavel Bure may not be interested in playing ball with the Canucks organization and that the, if you’ll excuse the overplayed word here, "rift" stems from Bure, not the Canucks organization.

Another theory going around is that the team’s ownership may be stepping in here. The Aquilinis are fans of the team and have been described as being as passionate as any other Canucks fan.

If there’s one thing Canucks fans are incredibly divided upon, it’s where Bure stands within the organization.

Some view him as being incredibly greedy and selfish, while others think it’s a no brainer that Bure should be honored. Assuming that the Aquilinis fall into the former category (and there’s been zero indication either way of what they think about Bure) zero mention of Bure on anything Canucks owned would make sense.

Another theory comes from Valeri Bure, Pavel’s brother. When asked on Twitter if Pavel’s induction finally means that the Canucks will retire Bure’s jersey, the response was ":-)))) no. GM has to go first!"

Valeri has been rather outspoken regarding Mike Gillis. Almost a year ago he gave a blistering interview on the Team 1040, where he blamed Gillis for Pavel’s jersey not being retired and said that it was "pathetic."

Valeri went on to elaborate: "The way that Mike Gillis handled himself when the people asked him why Pavel Bure’s jersey is not up, he said something like "I’ll decide when his jersey goes up.’ And I thought: who gives you the authority to decide?"

To his credit, Gillis has said that he has approached Pavel about doing a jersey retirement, but that Pavel has responded by saying that it wasn’t for him. Responding to Valeri’s claims, Gillis said that he had always been supportive of Pavel and would continue to do so.

Regarding the jersey retirement he also said "I have limited input into these decisions because it would be completely inappropriate for me with my history with Pavel to make such a call alone."

That said, back in December 2010, Gillis said that a jersey retirement would probably not happen.

Whatever the reason for Bure’s online snub by the Canucks, it’s evident that some of the bad blood that exists between Bure and the Canucks organization is still there.

It’s one that goes back to the very beginning of Bure’s NHL career. Sneaking out of Russia and hightailing it to the United States, Bure was then left to twist in the wind in Los Angeles, staying at his agent’s house.

If you grew up collecting hockey cards in the 90s, there’s one infamous trading card of Bure from Upper Deck  in rollerblades on the beach. Kind of odd if you don’t know the context, but you now know the reason why that picture exists.

The particulars of this story come from a Tony Gallagher article written back in ’99. The Province, thankfully, has it up on its website. Those who want a brief recap, read on.

  • The Canucks then waited two weeks before sending Brian Burke (who was assistant GM at that time) down to visit Bure for a quick lunch. Another 10 days later and Bure has joined the rest of the team in San Jose.
  • Part of the issue was that there was a court case going on with Bure’s old Russian team, a case that was settled by the Canucks ponying up $250,000 in cash to buy Bure’s rights. $50,000 of that amount Bure had to pay for out of his own pocket, unfortunately.
  • From there came planted rumours of Bure demanding a trade during the playoffs, the Canucks organization agreeing to a contract with Bure but trying to pay him in Canadian dollars rather than American and a refusal to pay Bure his signing bonus.

Incidentally, getting the Canucks to pay Bure his signing bonus is something Mike Gillis ended up doing for Bure. Regardless of the reasons for the Canucks initial silence – and Mike Gillis was flying at the time and it’s very possible that the PR team misjudged the passionate reaction from the fan-base while waiting for a quote from the team’s airborne General Manager – when you look at the complicated history, and Bure’s complicated legacy, it’s at least possible that there was something going on behind the scenes. What it is, is anyone’s guess.