WWYDW Summer Debates: Bure versus Hughes for the best skater in team history

Photo credit:© Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
11 months ago
Welcome back to WDYTT WWYDW, the only hockey column on the internet that reads faster than a Archie Comic.
Speaking of going fast, that’s exactly what we’re here to talk about today.
The word “skater” is used as a catch-all term for all players on a hockey roster that are not currently strapped inside a set of goaltending equipment. But there are skaters, and then there are skaters, and we all know the difference.
Some players make their bread and butter on their skating abilities, and the Vancouver Canucks have been blessed with some truly fleet-of-foot individuals over the years. That said, two of them definitely stand out from the pack.
They are Pavel Bure and Quinn Hughes.
No one would ever describe the two’s skating style as similar. But what each of them has in common is a skating ability that is, figuratively and somewhat literally, miles ahead of their peers.
Bure retired in 2003, the same summer that Hughes was preparing for kindergarten, so the two never got to share the ice at the same time. Not in real life, anyway. But this is the fictional, hypothetical world of the Summer Debates, and so we have the power to put them head-to-head.
And so we shall.
This week, we’re debating:
Who is the best skater in Canucks’ history, Pavel Bure or Quinn Hughes?
(Third-party write-in candidates are welcome, too)
Make your case in the comment section.
Last week, we asked:
Who is the toughest Canuck to ever lace ‘em up?
You duked it out below!
BeerCan Boyd:
Hardest punch was Curt Fraser, not Gino. Curt one-punched a few guys in his career, including Dave Farrish and Willie Plett.
Toss up between Orland Kurtenbach and Jack McIlhargey.
Craig Coxe went toe-to-toe with Probert a few times. Gino, Momesso, Brashear. Diduck was a middleweight who could really throw down. Snepsts, Butcher. I never saw Kurtenbach, but I think he was supposed to be pretty tough. Smyl was a beast. But I think Craig Coxe was the scariest.
Canuck Dog:
Gino, hands down. Or Rypien.
Chris the Curmudgeon:
I am not saying he was the toughest, but that image of Trevor Linden in 1994 with blood covering his sweater, arm wrapped around Kirk McLean and a look of sheer exhaustion on his face after giving every last ounce in a close Game 7 loss, comes to mind first. The team has had some tough goons also, but it’s worth mentioning toughness between the whistles, too.
The three listed, Gino, Brashear and Rypien, are all good choices. Each was tough on and off the ice. I think I would go with Brashear. I believe he was the heavyweight champ of the league when he played here.
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
This depends on how you define tough.
Rypien was the toughest pound-for-pound. Gino was described by other payers in the league as “scary tough,” meaning he could really hurt people and instill fear. We often forget Troy Crowder who played 30 games for the Canucks, and he was a scary tough SOB. Craig Coxe and Tim Hunter are two guys I would describe as warriors. Diduck and Bieksa remind me of each other as “smart tough,” in that they pick their spots well. Curt Fraser was an element of skilled toughness and could tactically take guys apart. Garth Butcher (one of my favorites of all-time) was tough in being able to carry a soft team on his back and take on the McSorley’s of the league, ala Luke Schenn.
Intentionally left out was Brashear… not that he wasn’t tough, but he forgot his role and began to think he was a hockey player, so he lost my respect. Read “The Hammer” by Dave Shultz and see flaws that Schultz exposes in this trajectory.
Enough of the history lesson, I am going with Tiger. He didn’t back down from anyone and was tough for a long time, he took his licks but he could give them as well. Although not the biggest player by any margin, he was fearless but could also play the game well, which is the tipping point for me because he was an asset on the ice.
Curt Fraser often ended fights with one punch and I don’t remember him taking much damage in return.
The guys now are tougher because they have to use an opponent’s helmet as a punching bag.
Curt Fraser who was a larger version of Rypien, but stronger and meaner. Rypien would want to beat guys up, Fraser wanted to demolish them.
Earl Martin:
Hands down, Dave Richter. I was at a Canucks/Oilers game in the mid ‘80s where Dave Semenko was digging away at the Canucks goalie long after the play was stopped. Richter ran him from behind and sent him flying into the end boards. Semenko bounced up and went to come at whoever had run him. Then he saw it was Richter and decided discretion was the better part and just skated away. There weren’t a lot of guys who scared Semenko.
This is a great debate! Gino, Brashear, Rypien, and Fraser are the four best fighters the Canucks have had, so if your definition of tough revolves around dropping the gloves and protecting teammates, then those four are at the top of the list. No argument on that!
However, if you define toughness as being able to deal with hardship and thrive in difficult situations or demonstrating a strict and uncompromising approach, then I think the clear choice is Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
The Sedins played a physically-demanding and uncompromising style predicated on winning board battles and possessing the puck. Known as the best conditioned athletes on the team, they rarely missed games despite the physical toll their style of play extracted. They were tough to play against because they rarely lost a puck battle and once they had the puck, they rarely gave it away without generating a scoring chance.
Off the ice, they had to deal with their share of hardships as significant portion of media and fans initially referred to them as “the sisters” and championed the troglodyte notion that Swedish players were softer than Canadians and could never be leaders of an NHL team. The Sedins developed a thick skin and carried themselves with the utmost class, treating disrespect with respect at all turns demonstrating a mental and emotional toughness second to none.
They proved the naysayers wrong, and after 17 seasons, the Sedins retired as the franchise leaders in all offensive categories and shortly after were inducted in to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
I look forward to the many measured, intelligent, and considerate responses this post will undoubtedly generate!
I am going Lars Molin as toughest Canuck ever.
I’m surprised that there’s not more votes on here for Jack McIlhargey. It may be because he played back in the ‘70s and a lot of people don’t remember him. He was such a scary guy that few opposing players would dare risk fighting him.
Jesse James Town:
The legend of Rypien, hands down…conversation over… 170lbs of whoop a$$.
Malcolm Metcalf:
As a line it’s hard to beat Gradin, Smyl, and Fraser. As Smyl said, when it was Gradin’s rotation to go to the net he just did and often got pounded, but next shift he was back out doing the same thing. Fraser was famous for his one-punch fights (overhand right) and Smyl, like RR would go with any one despite the size. Punch McLean’s NW Bruins produced a lot of tough players.
Gino Odjick (love that guy) and Donald Brashear. End of story.

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