More than nine months after former Canuck and current Twitter superstar Gino Odjick spilled the beans, the Canucks made it official yesterday that the most exciting player in franchise history will have his jersey retired sometime in the 2013-14 season. Unlike most in Canucks nation, this isn’t news that fills me with “yes!”, “finally!” or “what took so long?!”. For me, it is news I receive with mixed emotions.
I have made no secret on this blog and on Twitter that I haven’t forgotten how Pavel Bure left this city (as evidenced by my November 10th article: “Canucks set to wrongfully retire Pavel Bure’s #10“). I’m not prepared to forget what he did or legitimize it like so many others. But I am prepared to forgive him… I think.
Pavel Bure’s contribution to the Canucks on the ice was immense. He was the most electrifying player and best pure goal scorer in franchise history. You’ll notice that I don’t consider him the best player in franchise history like some, because of the lack of longevity and the fact that he was a one dimensional player (though that dimension was pretty great). His numbers are also skewed when you compare them to Markus Naslund or the Sedins because of the high scoring era he played in. It’s also frequently mentioned that he got them to the Stanley Cup Final in 1994, even though Kirk McLean was their best player and would have won the Conn Smythe had Vancouver won in game 7 in New York. But I digress.
Bure was sensational as a Canuck, and his play on the ice warrants having his jersey retired. But he turned his back on Vancouver in 1998 when he sat out demanded a trade while under contract and that matters to me.
One of the big reasons why I was so strongly opposed to Bure’s number being retired was because he had never really apologized or expressed his gratitude to the fans of Vancouver since his departure. In this respect, Bure has done a lot this year to mend fences.
On April 4th, Bure visited Vancouver, which isn’t exactly a quick and easy flight from his home in Russia. He met with the media, visited sick kids at Children’s Hospital and attended the Canucks game versus the Oilers in the evening.
Bure seemed very humble and appreciative of the reception he got when introduced at Rogers Arena. Maybe he’s fooling us or maybe I’m just getting soft, but it appeared to be genuine to me.
Yesterday, Bure was in town to visit once again at the Canucks Summer Summit (an event for season ticket holders) where it was announced that he will get his jersey retired. He took questions from fans and once again appeared to display a lot of class.
Bure and the Canucks have yet to decide which game Bure will have his jersey retired at, but I suggest they do it before the Saturday, November 2 game against the Toronto Maple Leafs (a 4pm game time). Make Toronto sit through one of our pregame ceremonies for once.
I was very much against Bure getting his number retired nine months ago, but I’m starting to soften on this with every appearance he makes in Vancouver. If Pavel Bure is going to reinvent himself and become part of the Canucks organization again (which means showing up for an old timer’s game at the Heritage Classic and other types of moments honouring their history) then that will do a lot of good with respect to his legacy.
It was the off-ice stuff that before that bothered me and it’s the off-ice stuff now that will be the only way that I can forgive him.