Pictured: from most well-liked to least: Pavel Bure, some fans, Alex Mogilny, Mike Keenan, some other guy.
Earlier today, we weighed in on Jason Botchford’s article reporting that the Vancouver Canucks were planning to send Pavel Bure’s number 10 to the rafters. Our take: it’s about flippin’ time. Bure may not have been as well-liked in Vancouver as the other three gentlemen whose names hang in Rogers Arena, but he was better at hockey, and since hockey honours are about hockey ability — not about who you would rather share a airplane ride with — Bure should be up there. (In the rafters, not an airplane.)
Of course, this is a very divisive issue and, shortly after we published, Vancouver Sun columnist Iain MacIntyre went live with a take of his own. In it, he argued Bure doesn’t deserve the honour, explaining that the criteria for jersey retirement in Vancouver differs from that of Hockey Hall of Fame induction.
But MacIntyre’s take had an added wrinkle: not only should Bure’s jersey not be retired — it isn’t about to be. From the Vancouver Sun:
The sensational story today about Vancouver Canuck owner Francesco Aquilini flying across the continent to offer Pavel Bure a jersey retirement ceremony was not only news to fans, but news to the National Hockey League team.
Aquilini has not commented on the report, which quotes only ex-Canuck Gino Odjick, so no one from the organization is speaking on the record about it. But it’s clear people in the Canucks have no knowledge of this plan because, almost certainly, it does not exist.
I truly hope this doesn’t turn into a Sun-Province clan war, because I just met and fell in love with this beautiful young woman named Juliet Province and, well, that would be ironic.
False alarm, people. We thought something interesting and Canucks-related had actually occurred during the lockout. We should have known how foolish it was to believe that. We’ll just quietly resume our wall-to-wall coverage of Dale Weise’s adventures in the Netherlands. (Did you know he received a match penalty and an automatic two-game suspension for lipping off the officials after that fight with Jeffrey Martens? Here’s hoping he uses the long layoff to take up cartography.)
If we can take anything away from this ordeal at this point, it’s this: bring up the idea of retiring Pavel Bure’s jersey in Vancouver and there is going to be a disagreement. Sure, normally it’s about whether or not the honour is deserved, not whether or not it’s happening, but this really is business as usual for this city. Bure’s tenure in Vancouver, like Mark Messier’s continues to resound, confound, and frustrate Vancouverites as though it literally just happened.
Thomas Drance made a good point this morning in an article arguing against giving Bure the honour. (He’s wrong, but it was still a good point.) It doesn’t make much sense for this ownership group to retire Bure’s jersey when they’re the ones that really pushed the “community-oriented” criteria.
The big issue still is that retiring Bure’s number might not make a lot sense. The Canucks – and this has happened while the Aquilini Group was in charge – have set up an internal standard for number retirements that emphasizes more than just a guy’s play on the ice. In order to have your number retired by the Canucks, generally speaking, you have to have shown loyalty and active citizenship in the local community. By retiring Linden’s number 16 (a slam dunk) in addition to Markus Naslund’s number 19 (less so a slam dunk), the Aquilini Group sent a statement to the denizens of Vancouver and to the players: that this franchise recognizes quality individuals in addition to quality hockey players.
By all accounts Pavel Bure is a fine person, but he’s an intensely private individual, and the Canucks have made a point of retiring the numbers of players who put on a strong “public face.” Bure just doesn’t meet this set of criteria.
Again, I can’t say I agree with that, since I think it’s silly criteria and much of the ownership group’s insistence on it has felt like posturing done in order to justify the other inductions. But Drance is still correct that this ownership group would be going back on what they’ve said originally if they chose to do this.
Either way, this has turned into a very strange story and this sure isn’t the end of it. We’ll keep you posted.