NELSON: Yes: exuberant, spectacular play

We Canadians love our hockey. Where else would the biggest controversy in town be whether to retire a hockey player’s jersey?

Oh well, when in Rome…

What are the criteria for an NHL team to retire a player’s jersey? If they include hockey proficiency, it’s a bit of a travesty that the Vancouver Canucks have not yet retired the jersey of Pavel Bure, the Russian Rocket. Surely there’s room in the rafters for the jersey of arguably the most dangerous Canuck goal scorer ever.

I know, I know, he’s only fourth in all-time Canuck goal scoring but he accomplished it in fewer years, including two 60-goal seasons. Bure even scored more goals in his first three years than everyone but Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky.

So it wouldn’t hurt us to remember the exciting play of the only Canuck Hall of Famer by hanging Pavel Bure’s number 10 jersey in the rafters of Rogers Arena.

Now, before Trevor Linden worshippers cry foul, I quickly add that Bure made nowhere near the on- or off-ice contributions of Captain Canuck, Stan Smyl or Markus Naslund, the three beloved Canucks whose jerseys have been retired so far.

All three were committed to team and city in addition to being outstanding hockey players.

But if citizenship is the litmus test for retiring a jersey, then once Henrik and Daniel Sedin’s jerseys are inevitably retired, it will be almost impossible for anyone else to subsequently qualify.

And how could Bure make a similar off-ice contribution at 20 years old, living in an apartment with Igor Larionov and speaking only Russian? It makes it a bit difficult to make a public pitch for the United Way.

Recognizing Bure’s exhilarating play needn’t diminish our reverence for our beloved triumvirate of jersey retirees. Surely we are capable of modulating our adulation and appreciation based on what each player offered fans.

Simply put, what Pavel Bure offered was the most spectacular and exuberant Canuck hockey ever played. That’s enough — retiring a jersey is not picking a Nobel Prize winner.

In Rogers Arena, after re-pledging our reverence for the Steamer, Trevor and Nazzie, it would be nice to also see number 10, and cast our minds back to the 1994 playoff run, the Bure rushes and those amazing goals.


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