Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The retiring Russian Rocket

Pavel Bure has called it a day, the mercurial on ice career of Bure came to an end on Tuesday, when Bure announced he was retiring from active play to take over the reigns of the Russian Olympic hockey program, just in time for the Turin Olympics.

Bure who shone brightest in Vancouver and then left in a cloud of acrimony was one of those players that made a fan stand up to watch. He frequently was the lead story on many a Vancouver sportscast, with his nightly scoring exploits. But in the end his days in Vancouver were controversial ones, with accusations of double dealing from management and some serious confrontations with the Vancouver media.

Bure never really seemed to feel comfortable under the intense spotlight that the Vancouver media scene exists under, his final days in a Canuck uniform cloaked in mystery and sourness.

Regardless of his off ice developments, when he was healthy and on the ice, not many could compare to his stats. Back to Back 60 goal seasons, and stints as a two time winner of the Rocket Richard trophy for goal scoring are among some of his accomplishments. He helped lead a determined Canuck team to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup final agains the Rangers before losing to the Blue shirts. Had the Canucks won that game and Bure's relationship in Vancouver would have been cemented for life regarldess of the mess that would follow.

His departure from Vancouver registered shock waves around the NHL, but did set up the Canucks nicely for years to come. One of the key aspects of the Bure trade was the acquisition of Ed Jovanovski, who still patrols the defence for Vancouver.

Bure played 702 regular season games and 64 playoff contests before heading home to Russia, he has not played a game since 2003 when he injured his knee while playing for the New York Rangers.

His new duties will include trying to rebuild a Russian hockey team that has been steeped in dysfunction and distrust the last number of years. Bure has promised that the team he selects will want to play for Russia. Russian hockey officials will be hoping that he can provide an exciting team and will return Russia to the highest points in the world of hockey.

It will be interesting to watch Bure on the other side of the negotiating table with the Russian team. One of the concerns of fans in the past has been the impression that Pavel was only in the game for Pavel, it seemed that his concept of team was a tad different than those that share a locker room with him. He will have to be a quick study, his Russian squad needs some serious team building to take place and rather quickly, many will be waiting to see how many of his fellow Russian hockey players accept his calls and respond to his requests.

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