The Vancouver Canucks addressed a bunch of fans concerns at their Summer Summit today. Whether it was the Heritage Classic, Mike Gillis’ talks with Roberto Luongo, or John Tortorella giving an idea of what he’ll bring to the team as head coach, the night has been filled with valuable information. Information that I’ll leave to the regular’s here at Canucks Army to deconstruct.
To me, the most important news of all? The Canucks announced that Pavel Bure’s #10 will be raised to the rafters of Rogers Arena at some point next season, becoming the fourth player in team history to recieve the honour.
Growing up, and to this day, my main interest has been in the Toronto Maple Leafs (which is why you’ll typically see me posting on the other coast of this fine network). But something that has lasted is the placing of the Canucks as a "second team". Throughout my life, Vancouver has always found away to have several of my favourite players in the league, a trend that started before I was even in school.
Yes, times were generally good for the Leafs in the early/mid 90’s. But at that age, my knowledge was as follows: scoring more is good, chocolate milk was the best accessory to watching a game on television, and the guy who could get away from the other team was the one to cheer for.
In particular, the team who’s logo looked like a bowl of spaghetti had a guy who did that better than anybody else, passing by his enemies in the blink of an eye, usually getting ready to celebrate the awesome conclusion. The easy to pronounce last name was just the icing on the cake.
I learned a lot of things about hockey, on and off the ice because of him. It took didn’t take me long to figure out every penalty in the book, as opponents tried anything they possibly could (with more tolerance than the present day) to slow him down. His brief number change to 96 lead to me learning about what European players had to go through to cross the pond. His subsequent injury-ridden season, and disapparance from the morning highlights was a realization that my superheroes weren’t neccessarily superhuman. His hold out and trade to Florida showed me that teams were much more complicated than a bunch of guys who wanted to play hockey against each other. Even after he left, his time in Florida was a crash course in what a great player looks like with bad teammates, and his time in New York was key in me learning about the financial side of the game and why a team full of big names doesn’t necessarily work.
From the moment he retired, I never wanted to see another Canuck wear #10 again. Of course, this came from the mind of a biased pre-teen, whose grasp of the situations surrounding him, while better than most at my age, wasn’t up to par. So I rolled my eyes as players were allowed to wear it after the fact, and as years passed with no news. As I’ve grown older, the circumstances became more understandable to me, but even still, there’s no way you can argue to me that this is the wrong decision.
Bure’s departure clearly separates him off the ice from Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden, and Markus Naslund (who kept me interested in Vancouver after Pavel’s departure). Those three were Canucks through and through. Smyl played out his entire career here, Linden’s departure was a trade in the midst of a disaster, which still managed to give long term gain to the team, and Naslund left when his role was beginning to diminish. Whether he was right or not, Bure still loses a lot of status in the city for his breaking point coming at the peak of his career, and not playing through the process.
But all the same, we’re still talking about the most skilled, most talented, and certainly most exciting player to ever play for the Vancouver Canucks. His franchise single season goal has only been equaled by himself, a longer career here would’ve seen him smash most of the team’s offensive records, and anything resembling a team award was basically his for the taking. Every year other than his rookie year, he represented the Canucks as an NHL All-Star. When you think of the 90’s Canucks, he’s one of the first people every Canucks fans wax nostalgic about, but definitely the first that everybody else did. Most importantly; he truly but the team on the map, both within the city, and across the league.
Now that the fences have been mended between the team and the Russian Rocket, this is a no brainer. The only question now, is when? Personally, I think it has to be on November 5th. That would be the 22nd anniversary of his first NHL game, against the Winnipeg Jets. Now, they aren’t facing the current Jets, but they are facing the Phoenix Coyotes, the team that is technically the same franchise, adding icing to the cake.
No matter what day they choose, it’s going to be a well deserved night to remember.