Top 10 of Number 10: Pavel Bure

All throughout that Saturday morning, from the minute I woke up to the minute I stepped out of my home, I thought about how many moments Pavel Bure has given to this city. Many are caught on camera and probably uploaded on youtube, but there were some that I simply remember sitting in my seat (most likely on the edge) at the Pacific Coliseum watching him live.  As I was riding on the Skytrain downtown to a short work meeting prior to the game, I thought to myself, “You’re one lucky lady.” I grew up in an era of Bure Canucks hockey. A player that was not only revered here in Vancouver, but all over the league and eventually found himself in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Bure Ceremony

Bure Ceremony

Here are my Top 10 Moments of No. 10, Pavel Bure:

  1. First ever game as a Vancouver Canuck versus the Winnipeg Jets: Pavel didn’t score that night, but he must have had five rushes or so up and down the ice. I skipped school that day, drove to TicketMaster at Pacific Coliseum and lined up for stand room only tickets so I could watch Bure that night. I also believe I skipped a volleyball practice, which resulted in my coach benching me for it. It was worth it. I saw exactly why everyone was such a buzz over this guy. He undressed defensemen, he shimmy’ed around opponents and skated faster, better and in more control than anyone I have ever seen before who played in the NHL.
  2. First NHL Goal: I don’t even want to talk about it, how about we just look at it. 
  3. Elbow on Shane Churla: Not one of his classier moments, but it was memorable for sure. Bure was no pushover  and although I do not condone it, the message was simple. He wasn’t one to be messed around with, he will push back. 
  4. Stick to Skate to Stick goal: The kind of goals you mess around with in practice. Bure added a little Pele to this goal and to top it off, it was short-handed. 
  5. Speed: There has never been anyone I have ever seen live that carried that much speed and so much control over the puck. What would spin most players out of control and hurling into the boards, made Bure a HOF’er.
  6. 1994 Double OT Goal vs Calgary: The pass from Jeff Brown, the rest… 
  7. Goal vs The Devils: Dipsy doodle and doh see doh. Bure danced around everyone in the Devils’ zone and scored. 
  8. End to End: There isn’t a Canuck player past or present that can do an end to end rush like Pavel, no one. 
  9. Calling His Shot: Pavel Bure gets a penalty shot on Damian Rhodes but he tells Koharski he’s going 5-hole and gets it. Babe Ruth, what? 
  10. Finally, Rocket to the Rafters: I’ve been waiting for this moment for so many years. It was about time.

The man’s career was one big highlight reel. I am one of the fortunate ones to see most of it from beginning to end. He will  always have his place here now in Vancouver, for that I am thankful. What stuck out the most that night, was when fans, even the younger ones that didn’t get to see him play, saw the videos of Bure highlights, the reactions of “oohs” and “ahhs” were almost like he was performing them live. He was that good.

Thanks Pavel and congratulations.

And then there were four...

And then there were four…

 

Justine Galo

@Aviewfromabroad

 

Through the Plexi-Glass: Remembering a Heart Of a Canuck

It’s the new mantra for the Vancouver Canucks, “The Heart of a Canuck”. It’s in the arena, it’s all over the city, and more importantly, it’s in us fans.  After a difficult loss in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, I felt my heart almost break. The toll of the whole playoffs resonated with me the minute the horn sounded and the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup.  I felt deflated, spent, and dejected. However, I remember being at the bar in the Best Buy Club section of the arena and I thought of a friend of mine who would have loved to have been there. His name? Curtis Giesbrecht.

When I went to high school, I found myself in a high school that was heavily into football, both CFL and the NFL. So I was one of the few kids that actually loved hockey and talked hockey as much as I could. Finding someone to talk to me about the Canucks, hockey in general was more or less ‘difficult’. You see, the Canucks weren’t that good of a hockey team back then. In the late 80’s early 90’s, they were, for a lack of a better word, mediocre. Despite all that, I still loved them. The cool thing was, I finally met someone else in my high school who loved them as much, if not more, than I. That guy was Curtis.

We drove our teachers crazy because instead of just focusing on class, we’d ask each other about the game we heard on the radio the other night or got to watch on TV. While everyone else in school was wondering how if the Pittsburgh Steelers were going to have a banner year, he and I would be discussing if Pat Quinn should be both GM and coach, Pavel Bure’s goal, or how much we both admired and loved Trevor Linden.  I had found my  hockey soul-mate!

We also used to bug a friend of ours about being a Flames fan, but he took it with stride and we had a great hockey banter in the hallways. However, the memory I cherish the most was the last year of high school. Curtis and I finally attended a Canucks game together. Lots of weekends working retail had to be done in order to pay for our 9th row seats at the old Pacific Coliseum but we made it there. Curtis wore his Canucks jersey (like he often did to school) and I believe at the time I had a #8 Greg Adams jersey.  It was the Canucks versus the Winnipeg Jets. We had seen Teemu Selanne graced us with his talent and intuition to score, while we had the always dynamic Bure. We were in hockey fan heaven.  I don’t believe we won that night, and I felt dejected, but I remember Curtis saying to me, “G, never give up being a Canucks fan, they are our team and I’ll love them forever, even when I die!” He was 17 at the time, and so was I.  We thought we’d be heading to Canucks games the rest of our adult lives together. We were even talking about going into season tickets one day.  He was the biggest fan to date.

Taken at the old Pacific Coliseum, Pavel Bure

We didn’t have the internet, so we didn’t have things like twitter, Facebook, or even a regular TV broadcaster of the Canucks to keep us up to date. We relied heavily on Sports Page, the radio and whatever news we could get into our proverbial hands.  Most of all, Curtis and I had each other.  Unfortunately, our dreams of being season ticket holders together never happened. Curtis was killed in an unfortunate car accident just a few short years after we graduated high school.

It’s been almost 20 years, but I still remember seeing his smile every morning and first thing he used to say to me wasn’t “Hello”, but it was “Hey G, how about those Canucks this year?” I miss that to this very day. So in my memory beats the heart of a Canuck. Today, when I step into Rogers Arena,  as the Vancouver Canucks take on the Pittsburgh Penguins, I will think of Curtis and all the great times we had together, as Canucks fans.
Dedicated to the memory of Curtis Geisbrecht, forever a Canuck.

Justine Galo

Let’s just call Shirokov the first Sergei Shirokov

shirokovhushBack in the day, when Canucks hockey pretty much ruled my life, I remember sitting around with the regular group of buddies, and being so excited when the Canuck drafted Pavel Bure. My friends and I followed every detail of the story. From anxiously awaiting word from the NHL after other teams filed a protest of our pick claiming Bure was ineligible, to the politics of getting him here. The first night he stepped on the ice for the Canucks is one of my most vivid Canucks memories. As we all know, Bure came as advertised and to this day is the most talented player that has ever worn a Canucks uniform, in my opinion.

There’s a new Russian hope at training camp this year and after a few training camp sessions and a nice two goal performance against what was basically a roster of AHL players and juniors, Sergei Shirokov is turning a lot of heads. There are even fans comparing him to the “Russian Rocket”.

Now that I’m a bit older, I’m excited by Shirokov too, but not enough to make comparisons like that.

The Canucks drafted Shirokov 163rd overall in 2006, and this past summer signed the talented Russian after he decided to forgo more  guaranteed money in with CSKA Moscow to pursue and NHL career with the Canucks. Shirokov wanted to play so badly in the NHL he filed a lawsuit against his Russian team when they decided to try an block him from leaving.

“At the end of the day, this kid said: ‘I want to play in the National Hockey League and I’m prepared to do whatever I have to,’” Canuck assistant general manager Laurence Gilman said. “He’s on an entry-level, two-way contract. He understands he has to compete for a spot and if he’s unable to make our team, he’ll play for our minor-league team.”

That determination is admirable, and by all reports Shirokov is putting his talents on display so far in camp, but do we need to heap the pressure of being the next Bure on him? Is that even fair? How about we just look forward to what the first Shirokov can do?

Shirokov is a smallish player, listed at 5’10”, 176 pounds. He had 17 goals and 41 points in 56 games last season in the KHL. There are many who claim he’s played against men for a couple years now in Russia, and that he should be able to adjust to the pace and grind of the NHL quickly, however not many rookies can accomplish that. The NHL plays twice as many games as the KHL, not including playoffs, and it hosts the best players in the world. Shirokov, if he makes the team, is likely going to find that a big adjustment.

Then there is the culture.

His english is spotty at best, and there aren’t any other Russian players on the roster and the adjustment will be massive.

There is no doubt that Shirokov possesses the talent and determination to play in the NHL. There is also no doubt his scoring talents  would be a welcome addition to the Canucks offensive depth and trhe club and it’s fans would love nothing better for him to jump right in and bring fans out of their seats.

So start thinking of nicknames and order your Shirokov jersey. Just don’t be surprised if the transition from promising prospect to Canucks superstar take a little longer than a few training camp sessions and a minor league exhibition game.

Quick Hits:

My Top Ten Favourite Hockey Memories

Yes it’s that time of the year again, and at this time we all reflect about the year passed.  I’ll say one thing for me, it’s been good, bad, and ugly. All things occurring, I have to take responsibility and credit.  I’ve had a great year getting back into doing what I love most, writing. I want to thank Brian and Canuckscorner.com for giving the opportunity to continue to hone my skills and write about my favourite sports franchise in the world, the Vancouver Canucks.

I’m going to take a trip down memory lane today and talk about my 27 year tenure of being a Canucks fan.  My most memorable moments, not just on the ice, but just as a fan.   As I read, in another blog and article, the Canucks mean a lot to my life. In fact, I got the privilege to be a part of the Canucks family via work at one point in my life.

Sports and particularly hockey have been a big point of bonding with my father, who didn’t have any sons, so he took his eldest daughter to all the sporting events he could muster. Well, Dad, I just want to say it worked.  I am now more of a fanatic than you are. Thank you, Dad. I miss you and I will see you soon!

10) A Canucks Fan is Born: Before I was a Canucks fan I was a Winnipeg Jets fan, and my first ever NHL game I can recollect was at the Pacific Coliseum. It was the Canucks vs. Jets and I was so excited. My father got us great seats. Section G row 11. Oddly enough those were my season tickets to the Giants.  I remember I fell in love with the Canucks that night. They were my new team.  I was amazed by the play of two players in particular, #12 Stan Smyl and probably my early favourite #23 Thomas Gradin.  We didn’t win that night, but I remember Gradin scoring 2 goals and I was hooked.  This was the moment I was hooked as a Canucks fan. That was 1981,  a 6 year old Canuck junkie was born.

9) Canucks and Friendships: My first Canucks game with my friends without my father. It was 1985, I was 10 years old and our neighbourhood parents decided to buy a block of tickets for us neighbourhood kids to go to a game together. These were the days our parents could drop us off at the arena and pick us up after the game and be safe. It was an exciting time, we all had a blast. The Canucks actually beat the Oilers that night and were in rare form. I got the see Wayne Gretzky not score a goal that night. It was a rarity indeed. I remember my friend Mike yelling, “I’m a Canucks fan for life!”.Great time, good memories

8) Birth of Towel Power: Although I wasn’t there, I got to see this on TV, but I’m sure all Canucks fan remember Roger Nielsen’s “white towel” surrender to the officials. It was Chicago stadium, I was at home watching it with my family. When the Canucks came home to the Pacific Coliseum, my dad took me to that game and I’ve never seen so many white towels being swung ever. The Canucks came home to a hero’s welcome. I was just very fortunate to be a part of it. Towel Power was born.

7) The 1982 Cup Run: Being 7 years old, it was more about the excitement that surrounded me than the actual games themselves. The Canucks were a bunch of muckers and grinders with a few talent players here and there. Nothing like the Stanley Cup Final opponents in the Islanders. The Islanders were THE team back in those days. Although we were slaughtered in the finals in a sweep, I will never forget Bernie Pascal and his enthusiasm during his sports broadcasts talking about how this lunch bucket team has captured the hearts and imagination of the city.

6) Los Angeles 1988: I got to see Wayne Gretzky live for the first time as an LA King at the Great Western Forum. My dad had made that trip to see the Lakers and the Celtics with my uncle, and he saw how much I wanted to go and so he packed me up in the car and drove down to LA with him and my uncle. We went to the Lakers game the night before, which they won, and then got tickets to watch “The Great One” as an LA King for the first time. That was a new era in hockey. Gretzky scored two that night against the St Louis Blues.

5) Pavel Bure’s first game: I’ll never forget his first game at the Pacific Coliseum. It was against my old Winnipeg Jets. Wow. I was off my seat so much I must have hit the end of it when it was raised a few times too many that night. I was 16 years old.  The Russian Rocket was the most exciting player to ever put on a Canuck uniform bar none. Many good memories of the Russian Rocket, but seeing him for the first time that night, I knew he was the real deal.

4) Sweden 2000 Canucks Training Camp: Luckily for me, I was given the opportunity to go Sweden in 2000 and watch the Canucks do their training camp and part of their pre-season there. It was the first time I got to see the Sedins and of course Stockholm, Ornkoldsvik and many other things in Sweden.  Fascinating trip, outside of Canada, I don’t think there is a county that loves their hockey as much as the Swedes.

3) 2005 IIHF World Championships, Austria: Loving my work very much at this point and also my very last assignment for this conglomerate, I was able to see international hockey with NHL stars. It was the lockout year. I balanced my time between babysitting our favourite broadcaster and hanging out and getting some fantastic interviews with members of all the teams involved. I must say the one that I had with Brenden Morrison, his wife Erin and his parents, who live in Europe, one of the most fun. It was unfortunate that the Canadians didn’t win that tournament, but it showed how much the Czech team wanted to win it in front of many of their fans.

2) 1994 Stanley Cup Run: I know that this would be most peoples’ favourite hockey memory if you’re a Canucks fan, but it’s only second compared to mine for very personal reasons.  That run captured the imagination of not just the city but of the whole entire nation.  From the Calgary series when Robert Reichel was stoned by Kirk McLean and Bure’s winner in OT, from the Toronto series, the hardest fought 6 games and finally that heart breaking loss in the game 7 at MSG. I remember being at the airport and waiting for the team and they were applauded. I remember my friend getting arrested for lewd conduct on Robson Street, prior to the disgraceful rioting. It was just a magical run, it was just so sad, and to this day it still hurts, that the Canucks didn’t have the gas to finish the race.

1) January 2001, My Daughter’s first Canucks Game: Yes, this has got to be most memorable moment. My then three year old daughter was hooked on hockey. It was great to see her cheer for our boys and see her reaction to the crowd and take in the atmosphere of a hockey game.  She got her hot dog, her drink, her Canucks shirt and she was all set and very happy.  Passing on the love of hockey to my child to me is my most fond memory. It’s wonderful to know that she can share something I am so passionate about.

Yeah those are some pretty big memories for me as a hockey fan, and especially a Canuck fan.  I just wanted to share them with you all out there.  Remember why you love this team and why you love hockey. It’s beyond what goes on in the game.

Musings from the Mud…

Lotus Blossom