Now that Markus Naslund’s jersey #19 has been raised to the Rogers Arena rafters, focus has shifted to whether or not Pavel Bure’s #10 belongs up there as well.
As a Canuck, Pavel recorded two 60-goal seasons plus a 50-goal one. He totaled 478 points – 254 goals and 224 assists – in 428 games. He added 66 points – 34 goals and 32 assists – in 60 playoff games. His 1.12 points per game in the regular season and 1.10 points per game in the playoffs are franchise highs.
Add the many highlight-reel plays and exuberant goal celebrations, and quite simply, Pavel is, in many Canucks fans’ eyes, the most exciting player to ever put on a Canucks jersey.
The $64,000 question is, are Pavel’s numbers and highlights enough to raise #10 next to #12, #16 and #19?
IMHO, they’re not.
As Mike Gillis often says, there are various criteria to warrant the highest honor a team can give a player. For the Canucks, a player’s off-ice contributions are just as important as his on-ice accomplishments. I like Pavel as a player – I started watching hockey during his prime years – but I think it’s safe to say his community work pales in comparison to that of Smyl’s, Linden’s and Naslund’s.
For whatever reason, I never connected emotionally with Pavel as I did with Trevor and Markus. Maybe it’s the abrupt way he left the Canucks. Maybe it’s because he demanded a trade out of Vancouver and held out until Brian Burke finally dealt him to the Florida Panthers. Maybe it’s because he has no connection to Vancouver anymore. While I’m sure there’s more to this story than what has been reported, as GMMG alluded to in a long interview yesterday, the optics alone make it hard to mention him in the same breath as Stan, Trevor and Markus. I actually mentioned to Richard and Chris recently that I don’t think it’s weird to see Brad May, Ryan Johnson and now Jeff Tambellini wear Pavel’s #10.
So if the Canucks don’t retire Pavel’s jersey, do they induct him in the Ring of Honour?
My initial answer was that they should. At least it was until Ben Kuzma (Vancouver Province) questioned whether Pavel would even want any part of any party in his name. And then Barry Macdonald (Team 1040) reminded us this afternoon of the “honour” part of the Ring of Honour; given the circumstances of Pavel’s departure, this is certainly a fair point.
I think it’s a given that Pavel will be honored by the Canucks in one form or another.
“He’s on our radar,” said Canucks general manager Mike Gillis. “Part of it is the person and it didn’t end the way people had hoped. But there are two sides to the story. He’s a private person and I don’t think it’s any deviation from the criteria.”
Chances are, they’ll do it by either retiring his jersey or inducting him in to the Ring of Honour. But if not with either, then how?
If I may go off the board, what about renaming their year-end Most Exciting Player Award to the Pavel Bure Trophy – awarded to the Canucks most exciting player as chosen by the fans?