On Saturday, November 2, Pavel Bure will have his number retired before a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Rob The Hockey Guy and Vancity Buzz will bring you one moment a day counting down to Bure’s big night at Rogers Arena.
This is the first of a 10-part series celebrating the most exciting player in Canucks’ history. That’s 10 moments for #10 (thank goodness I didn’t have to think of 96 moments for #96).
Moment #10: Pavel’s first game
Pavel Bure was drafted by Vancouver in the 6th round, 113th overall in the 1989 draft (the reason he was drafted so late is another story for another day). Due to complications concerning his eligibility, it took more than two years for Bure to make his NHL debut, on November 5, 1991 at the Pacific Coliseum as the Canucks hosted the Winnipeg Jets.
Bure didn’t register a single point in his first game and the game ended as a 2-2 tie, but it is still one of the most memorable regular season games in Canucks’ history. That was the night that Vancouver got a glimpse of its first superstar, and it was apparent right from game number one.
Here’s how Tony Gallagher described Bure’s first game in the November 6, 1991 edition of the Province:
Hip, hip, Bure.
What else could you say, after last night’s 2-2 tie between Vancouver Canucks and the Winnipeg Jets at the Pacific Coliseum, the first NHL game for Pavel Bure.
While the point from the tie was probably nice for the Jets, the flashes of brilliance Bure showed the full house of 16, 123 were absolutely the talk of the evening, even though there was no bottom line from the young Soviet.
Although he isn’t a left winger, premier Mike Harcourt could well have named him minister for speed and stick handling yesterday as his rushes brought standing ovations and tumultuous cheers from the faithful throng. And win or lose, the prospect of watching this fellow for the next 10 years would have to bring a smile even to the kisser of Don Cherry.
And though he didn’t get on the scoreboard, he drew seven minutes in Jet penalties, and was stopped three times while in cold by Winnipeg goalie Rick Tabaracci.
After mocking the Jets defence by splitting it once and walking around another seemingly lead-footed defender at the end of a long shift, he was loyally introduced to the violence of the NHL. Doug Evans smacked him in the face with his stick, and took a five-minute major and a game misconduct, but the Canucks were unable to capitalize.
And it’s as well he was outstanding for as it turns out the original figures on his contract were low. His agent Ron Selcer confirmed, the signing bonus is for $800,000 US, not $600,000 and fully $500,000 is paid this year. Further he has high bonuses for reasonable games played milestones and goals scored.
He appeared to be worth every penny last night in entertainment value alone, to say nothing of the 2,500 seats he sold all by himself. Suffice to say, those who saw Bure last night will be back.
He set up Ryan Walter cold in the first period as well, but the Canucks opened the scoring when Geoff Courtnall hammered a power play point shot through Tabaracci’s legs four minutes into the game.
It was doughnuts until Troy Murray tapped in a goalmouth rebound to even the score at one at 6:49 of the second period, a session in which the teams combined for just 10 shots, including Bure’s efforts.
The Soviet’s ice time was accelerated by acting head coach Rick Ley when Jim Sandlak left the game with a minor injury. Bure had a chance to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead five minutes into the third period but the pass from Cliff Ronning hopped over his stick.
But the Jets struck again on the power play when Luciano Borsato tapped in a Fredrik Olausson point shot. That goal was equalized by Robert Dirk’s first of the season with just six minutes remaining.
Here’s a look back at Pavel’s first game, the day the Russian Rocket was born: