In November, the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame announced its 2011 Hall of Fame class. Without taking credit away from the other four inductees, it is clear to everyone that Pavel Bure is the marquee name this year.
Bure, nicknamed “The Russian Rocket,” has succeeded at nearly every level imaginable in hockey. He is a perennial NHL All-Star, two-time Olympic medalist, world champion and world junior champion.
Bure’s inclusion in the IIHF Hall of Fame this year further highlights the fact that, as one of the greatest pure scorers of his generation, he has been excluded from the Hockey Hall of Fame. I believe he is as deserving as anyone who has been included.
There is no question that Bure had the skills to be a member of the illustrious Hockey Hall Of Fame. During his prime, he was unstoppable. In the NHL, Bure scored 60 goals in two of his first three years with Vancouver. Bure led the NHL in goals three times, capturing the Rocket Richard Trophy twice.
Many remember Bure for his electrifying speed, excellent hands and the combination of the two which made every opposing fan hold their breath when he came streaking down the wing or down the ice on a breakaway. Even former Rangers coach Mike Keenan (who coached Bure in Florida later in his career), called him, “perhaps the most electrifying forward in the league.”
Unfortunately, Bure’s career was cut tragically short due to knee injuries. Because of that, he didn't have enough opportunities at a Stanley Cup and does not have the volume of statistics. Both would have made him a shoo-in for the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Does Pavel Bure belong in the Hockey Hall of Fame?
When you dive deeper into Bure’s career statistics, you see that Bure was more often than not the cream of the crop in the NHL. He is more than deserving of his rightful spot in the NHL pantheon.
Goals are gold in the NHL—and no one was better at scoring them than Bure. In only 13 NHL seasons, Bure had five seasons in which he scored 50 goals. Nine other players in NHL history have achieved this feat, and every single one of them is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Included in this list is Los Angeles Kings legend Marcel Dionne who, like Bure, never won a Stanley Cup. However, unlike Bure, Dionne never had a 60 goal season—a milestone which Bure achieved twice. I am not saying that Dionne does not deserve a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame—he is, in fact, a hockey legend—but I am arguing that Bure is as legendary in his era as Dionne was in his.
Furthermore, Bure is one of 11 three-time goal-scoring champions. Of these 11 men—including players who are considered the best of all time, such as Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Maurice Richard and Gordie Howe—only Bure and the still-active Teemu Selanne are not Hall of Famers. However, I am willing to bet that Selanne will be an automatic first-ballot Hall of Famer, and rightfully so.
As a Leafs fan, I am hoping that Mats Sundin is selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame next year on his first ballot. Even I—who owned a Sundin jersey in every style and every colour as a boy—realize that his selection would not be deserved, if he were selected ahead of fellow European superstar, Pavel Bure.