Pavel Bure was sensational right from the beginning. He thrilled fans in his first game, despite not registering a point. He put up 60 points in 65 games in his rookie season and won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie (impressive considering he missed 15 games and Tony Amonte put up 69 points as a rookie with the New York Rangers).
The Canucks had a winning record for the first time in 16 years during Bure’s rookie season. For the first time in team history, the Canucks were a very good team in 1991-92 and for the first time in team history, they had a superstar in their lineup. No player was more popular in Vancouver than the team’s young Russian star. He was the most exciting player in the league and Canucks fans got to see him up close and personal.
Here’s an excerpt from Iain MacIntyre’s article in the March 28, 1992 edition of the Vancouver Sun titled “Pavelmania”:
In one memorable winter as a Vancouver Canuck, Bure has become one of the most exciting players in the National Hockey League and a rookie-of-the-year candidate.
He is already a giant celebrity in a town not easily stirred, a strong, silent, heroic figure who makes young girls scream and many older ones gape. He is adored everywhere he goes.
Fans line up for hours to speak with him for 20 seconds at autograph sessions, strangers rush to him when he strays outside his downtown apartment, airline attendants and customs clerks have him sign scraps of paper and advertisers and charities flood him with offers and requests. People gossip about his mysterious wife.
When Bure plays, everyone – teammates, reporters, coaches, fans – waits for something to happen, something outrageous.
“If you’re watching the game on TV, you wait to go to the bathroom when he’s on the ice because you don’t want to miss anything,” Vancouver broadcaster Tom Larscheid says. “It could be the shift where he goes end-to-end.”
Pavelmania has gone wild.
Bure, angelic features and killer eyes, doesn’t understand what the fuss is about.
Unhappy with his treatment from Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonov, Bure, who turns 21 on Tuesday, left the Soviet Union last summer with his parents and younger brother Valery because he wanted to play in the NHL. He didn’t count on any of this idol stuff.
Perhaps the greatest example of Pavelmania was the birth of the Bure Song. Songs about players and teams are a dime a dozen in the age YouTube and social media, but back in 1992 it was a pretty rare occurrence.