On December 2, Chuck Norris became an Honourary Texas Ranger. Raise your hand if that surprises you. Not the fact he just became a Texas Ranger, but the fact he WASN’T ALREADY a Texas Ranger? I know, eh? Want to know something else that still surprises me? The fact that Pavel Bure isn’t in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Recently, J.J. was listening to me wax on at the different reasons why the Canucks are properly retiring the number 19 and not the number 10. One of my reasons had to do with the fact that Pavel decided he no longer wanted to be in Vancouver and forced the teams hand in a trade. How do you retire the jersey of a player who found their way out of town by force? As the discussion went on, I moved away from the reasons as to why his jersey shouldn’t be retired and on to reasons why he should be the first Canuck to enter the hallowed hall.
I know statements such as these are not received well in town. Many of you are going to tell me right now that Pavel has no business entering the Hockey Hall of Fame unless Trevor Linden gets there first. And, if the world was perfect, I’d agree with you. Yet the imperfections of the world dictate that Trevor, as great of a guy as he is, doesn’t get in. Pavel was electric, while Trevor was simply powerful. Pavel had promise, while Trevor had presence. And it’s those tangible assets that Pavel had, plus his ability to score goals like no other, that should get him in the hall.
So what does this have to do with Chuck Norris again? Quite a bit. Chuck Norris was an award winning actor on an award winning show for ten seasons. Pavel Bure was an award winning player who played on what should have been an award winning team in 1994. Chuck Norris is the most exciting man on the planet, while Pavel Bure was considered the most exciting man on the ice. Chuck Norris scared people. Pavel Bure scared goaltenders. Chuck Norris scored with the home audience. Pavel Bure scored with.. well.. you know.
But more to the point, Bure was a point-a-game player (779 points in 702 games) who was quite arguably the most dynamic forward of his time. With many of his seasons (and in the end, his career) cut short due to injury, Pavel was still a force on the ice who was always cause for concern. And the goals he scored with the variety that the fans loved – once he had the puck, he was able to skate faster than anyone else on the ice while deftly being able to control the puck in ways not humanly possible.
Eligible since 2006, Pavel has seen players such as Mark Messier, Igor Larionov, Steve Yzerman and Luc Robitaille enter while he still remains outside. And compared to that group, rightfully so. But what about other comparable players?
- Exhibit A – Cam Neely. Both Cam and Pavel had seasons and careers shortened due to injury, yet Pavel had more points in fewer games as well as five 50 goal seasons to Cam’s 3. Neither won a Stanley Cup. I’ll concede that Cam was a better leader and more responsible player on the ice, but responsibility doesn’t get you in the HHOF.
- Exhibit B – Pat LaFontaine. Pat was an exciting player in his own right, accumulating 1013 points over 865 games (across 15 seasons). Another player whose career was cut short due to injury, he is by far the best comparison to where Pavel would have reached had he played both in the same era and for the number of seasons.
So when does Pavel get his due? I’m not sure. But just like Chuck, I think it’s only a matter of time.