Friday, December 10, 2010

Naslund, Bure...where's the line?

I have to say that at the outset of researching this blog post I was 50/50 on the Naslund jersey retirement, but when the second and third leading scorers on the team are up there that pretty much means your all-time leading scorer has to be.

Markus Naslund was...

3 time first team all star as a Canuck
Lester B. Pearson award voted MVP by his peers
Longest continually serving captain at 8 seasons (tied with Stan Smyl)
Member of the best line in hockey
All Time Canucks Leading scorer with 756 points in 882 games played, including most goals ever with 346

The other two men who's numbers are retired, Smyl and Trevor Linden, had cup runs, and that means a lot to a franchise with so little to brag about considering it's 40 year history, but what Markus did for this team warrants a jersey retirement, not just in Vancouver but in basically any market.

Pavel Bure still doesn't.  No ammount of stat research will convince me otherwise.  Here's the bizarre part, he does belong in the hall, no question; how?

Linden wore the Captain's C for 6 seasons, Smyl and Naslund for 8 each for a total of 22 of the franchise's total 40 years in existence...that's a good run.  The fact that they are 1-2-3 in team scoring only solidifies the argument that they belong.  Bure is a distant 7th on the Canucks All Time Scoring list but was never a leader.  He did electrify fans like no other player in team history and was part of an astounding cup run in 1994, but the way he left the organization makes it near impossible for him to have his 10 (or 96) ever retired in Vancouver.  If Naslund wasn't the all time leading scorer he wouldn't have his jersey retired.  If Bure was the all time leading scorer then he almost certainly would, despite the soured relationship with the city of Vancouver.

Naslund's career 869 points and 1110 games played (about .78 points per game career average) aren't enough to ever enter hockey's hallowed hall, but Bure's individual point totals: 779 points in only 772 games, 437 of those goals for a total of 1.11points per game average are hard to ignore.  His goals/game ratio of .62 is better than Cam Neely's 395 career goals in 726 games played and he is already in the Hall.  Both of these players had injury shortened careers so based on Neely's numbers Bure would appear to be a lock for the Hall.

Bure also represented a transition in the game which has left a permanent mark on the NHL as one of a first wave of Russian defectors.  His very drafting by the Canucks schrouded in mystery as he was only draft eligible due to meeting the minimum number of international games played, a fact no other NHL GM or Scout realized on draft day in 1989. He does also have the Calder Memorial Trophy for Rookie of the Year in 1991-92, led the league in goals three seasons, twice scoring 60, and recording 50 or more five times which makes him a member of an elite nine man club which boasts Brett and Bobby Hull, Phile Esposito, Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy, Guy Lafleur, Marcel Dionne and Mario Lemieux. Bure also has an impressive international medal haul: Two Silvers and a Gold for the Soviet Union in the World Juniors, one gold and one silver for the USSR in two World Championships, and a Silver and Bronze for Russia at the Winter Olympics. He holds the record for most goals in the World Junior Championship tournament with 27 in only 21 games. He was a six time All-Star and All Star Game MVP.   The list of accomplishments goes on and on with Bure, and if he had played his career with the Canucks I'm sure his number 10 would be in the rafters, but he left town, so he'll have to settle for a bronze plate in Toronto, something Naslud, Smylr or Linden will likely never earn.

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