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Pavel Bure

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Updated: 08.10.2003

Prominent Russian hockey player, dubbed "The Russian Rocket". Born March 31, 1971.

One of the most electrifying hockey players of the past years, Bure is nicknamed "The Russian Rocket" because of his incredible speed. Though small by NHL standards, Bure is built like a rock, with great strength and balance. He has a nasty streak him and won't take anything from bigger players. When he senses a chance to score, he is reckless in his drive to the net.

"The Russian Rocket" had only started skating at the age of six. His father, Vladimir, gave him a chair so that he wouldn't fall down too much. When he got a chance for his first tryout to become a member of the Soviet Red Army team, he wore figure skates and fell down lots of times, making him the worst player on the ice.

At the age of 16, Pavel joined the Red Army to play with the best hockey players in Russia at that time, including the popular KLM line (Vladimir Krutov, Igor Larionov, and Sergei Makarov). It was with that team also that he met Sergei Federov and Alexander Mogilny. Together, they formed one of the best lines in the world. They were being groomed to carry on the tradition of the KLM line in the old Soviet regime, prior to the fall of communism.

Pavel played in the World Junior Championships for three years where he scored 27 goals and 12 assists for a total of 39 points in just 21 games. In 1989 and 1990 he won the gold medal, and in 1991 just before joining the Canucks, he won the silver medal. In 1989 he was named the Soviet League Rookie of the Year.

Pavel Bure was drafted in the sixth round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, 113th overall, by the Vancouver Canucks. It would turn out to be a controversial pick at that time because no 18 year old could be drafted after the third round unless he had played more than ten games in 2 seasons in a major league. The NHL Media Guide stated that Pavel had only played 5 games the year before, but Mike Penny (the Canucks' Chief Scout) discovered proofs in the form of scoresheets which had recorded that Pavel had played 11 games in that previous year.

Bure instantly became the NHL's best player, as he would score 34 times while adding 26 helpers enroute to winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the best rookie.

The following season the Russian Rocket lifted off to a new stratosphere, scoring 60 goals while adding 50 assists and being named a NHL First Team All Star.

In 1993-94 he scored 60 goals for the second-straight year, making him the eighth player in NHL history to accomplish that feat. During the unforgettable Stanley Cup run of the 1994 playoffs, Pavel led the team in scoring with 31 points. He also led the entire league in playoff goals with 16, none bigger than the game 7 overtime goal against the Calgary Flames to advance the Canucks to the second round.

The following season was a difficult season for the entire NHL and most of its players as the season was shortened due to a labour dispute. Pavel only managed 20 goals and 43 points in 44 games. Yet it was nowhere as near as difficult as the next two seasons.

1995-96 was supposed to be the great rejoining of perhaps the league's most dangerous duo - Pavel Bure and newly acquired Alexander Mogilny. Unfortunately only 15 games into the season Pavel Bure's ACL ligament was torn to pieces in a freak accident. Pavel's season was over.

The 1996-97 season saw Pavel return for 63 games but only muster 23 goals and 55 points. During the season people wondered if the Russian Rocket would ever return to his former glory. Following the conclusion of the disappointing season it became known that Pavel had played much of the schedule with a severe case of whiplash, and perhaps should have sat out that season as well.

Any doubts about Bure's ability to return to his style of explosive speed, all out recklessness and goal scoring clinics were answered in the 1997-98 season, as Bure teamed up with Mark Messier to score 51 times while tieing for 3rd over all in league scoring.

Bure, who had notified the Canucks he wished to be traded as early as the 1995-96 season, finally demanded a trade by sitting out the start of the 1998-99 season. Bure sat out despite being scheduled to make $8 million US citing reasons such as not enough privacy in a small, Canadian market, a variety of disputes with management and a desire to play with a winning team.

The trade finally came on January 17, 1999 as Brian Burke traded him to the Florida Panthers.

Bure's stay in Florida started out a bit rocky, as he reinjured his damaged knee. However Bure again rehabilitated his knee and by the 1999-2000 season restablished himself as one of the leagues's top players.

The New York Rangers acquired forward Pavel Bure in a trade with the Florida Panthers in March 2002.

Bure is a mysterious character too. A book called The Riddle of the Russian Rocket published in 1999 detailed several oddities about Pavel.

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