Pavel Bure's Case for the Hall of Fame
On Tuesday, the NHL Hall of Fame will announce its class of 2009 and it's pretty much assumed -- and for good reason -- that Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Brian Leetch will be getting their calls for enshrinement in Toronto. Easy choices, all of them.
As Brian Costello of The Hockey News points out, the fourth spot is going to create plenty of debate with such players as Luc Robitaille, Alexander Mogilny, Dave Andreychuk, and Doug Gilmour, among others, also eligible. And let's not forget about The Russian Rocket, Pavel Bure.
One of the most dynamic players to ever play in the NHL (subjective statement? Sure. But does anybody disagree?), Bure has been at the center of Hall of Fame debates for quite some time. The arguments against him can range from the fact his career was cut short (he retired at 31) due to chronic knee problems, to the fact he was never on a Stanley Cup winning team. He also wasn't much for the defensive aspect of the game.
But in his career, Bure averaged more than a point-per-game in the postseason, including a 16-goal, 15-assist run during the 1993-94 playoffs when the Canucks fell to the Rangers in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.
Was he a complete, two-way player in the mold of Yzerman? Absolutely not. Does his resume possess lofty career milestones (700-plus goals, for example, or, heck, even 500?) like Hull? Not on the surface, no. Should any of that take away from his goal-scoring dominance of the 1990s, or how well he stacks up against other players that are already in (or will soon be in) the Hall of Fame? Heck No.
Consider that in Bure's career he was a ...
Five-time 50-goal scorer: It's only been done by 10 players in the history of the NHL, and Bure is one of them. Two of his 50-goal seasons came during the 1999-00 and 2000-01 campaigns, when Bure led the NHL with 117 goals combined.
The other nine players with at least five 50-goal seasons: Wayne Gretzky (nine), Mike Bossy (nine), Mario Lemieux (six), Marcel Dionne (six), Bobby Hull (five), Brett Hull (five), Phil Esposito (five), Guy Lafleur (five), Steve Yzerman (five).
The players in bold are already members of the hockey Hall of Fame, while two others (Brett Hull and Yzerman) will likely be in by the end of the day on Tuesday, leaving only Bure on the outside looking in.
Two-time 60-goal scorer: A more exclusive club than one above, Bure is one of just eight players to ever record a pair of 60-goal seasons in his career, and he did so in back-to-back years during the 1992-93 and 1993-94 campaigns.
The other seven players: Wayne Gretzky (five), Mike Bossy (five), Mario Lemieux (four), Phil Esposito (four), Brett Hull (three), Jari Kurri (two), Steve Yzerman (two).
Bolded players, of course, are already in, and once again, after Tuesday, Bure will likely be the only member of this group that remains on the outside.
Three-time goal-scoring champion: Three times in his 12-year career Bure finished the regular season as the league's leading goal-scorer, while he finished in the top-five two other times. Only 11 other players have done so: Bobby Hull (seven), Phil Esposito (six), Gordie Howe (five), Wayne Gretzky (five), Maurice Richard (five), Mario Lemieux (three), Brett Hull (three), Teemu Selanne (three), Babe Dye (three), Bill Cook (three), Charlie Conacher (three).
You know the drill by now. Once Brett Hull gets in on Tuesday, that will leave just Selanne and Bure.
His chances for this year are probably close to zero seeing as how this class is absolutely loaded, but how long can the voters ignore one of the most prolific goal-scorers in NHL history?