Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Canucks to retire Bure's number 10

Back in April, a flurry of Bure activity in Vancouver seemed to offer fans of the Russian Rocket false hope that number 10 might finally end up in the rafters. Tonight, at the Canucks' annual Summer Summit, one of the team's most lively debates in history was resolved as it was announced that Bure's jersey would be retired.

Truth be told, the Canucks' end-game with Bure's April tour of BC Children's and Rogers Arena was more-or-less transparent.  By drawing out Bure's re-introduction to the Vancouver community, Canucks brass were afforded the opportunity to test the waters for reception.  And when the Rogers Arena faithful elected to give Bure a standing ovation during his in-game appearance, jersey retirement became a foregone conclusion.

Nonetheless, the organization did an impressive job of preventing the story from leaking in the days leading up. Save for a Sportsnet tweet mid-Summit, it appeared that all there would be for Canucks Nation to discuss at this event was Luongo and Tortorella.

As far as those issues are concerned, however, the crowd of 2,000 seemed to be uniformly behind Luongo (apparently season ticket holders don't accurately reflect say, the Twitter population) and Tortorella really couldn't be saying better things in his first month of appearances.

Nonetheless, just as detractors for Tortorella remain, so too do they exist for Bure's jersey retirement. This was no slam dunk on Aquilini and Gillis' part.  The reasons for number 10 to remain in circulation (to be worn by the Trevor Letowskis and Ryan Johnsons of Vancouver's hockey world) are well-documented.  Let alone Bure's less-than-ceremonious departure, this clearly seems to disrupt the community service requirement that Gillis once declared for jersey retirement.

As Bure and the city of Vancouver continue with this mutually-ingratiating process, however, the door is wide open for the Russian Rocket to start in that regard.  A handful of BC Children's patients back in April would likely argue that he's already begun.  And without reading too much into him being put on the spot, Bure's comments tonight seem to illustrate him as entirely receptive to any charity event that Gillis might ask of him. 

With regards to that infamous holdout, if you're familiar with a similar falling out that Patrick Roy had in Montreal (just a couple of years prior to Bure's West Coast depature), then you might have some added insight to the way things have seemed to resolve themselves here.

Once the Hall of Fame offered league-wide recognition for Roy, it no longer made any real practical sense for Montreal to deny him of local honours.  Within two years of his induction, the Canadiens finally put water under the bridge and gave one of their best ever a hero's return.  Enter Bure's Hall of Fame nod last summer.  Fast forward a year and here we are.  The Canucks have granted Bure official prodigal son status.

Let it be known that I am in no way insinuating that Bure's contributions and significance to this organization are analogous to Roy and the Canadiens.  But the parallels of historical bad blood and divisiveness among fans are there, nonetheless.  So too now is the practice of repairing broken relationships and giving their superstars what's due to them.

The detractors will say what they will, but truly, the Canucks need this.  Consecutive 60-goal seasons, a Calder and yes, a Triple Deke.  For an organization that doesn't have a lot of history to celebrate, the opportunity to celebrate and recognize Bure's unprecedented achievements should be welcomed. 

Without exaggeration, Bure was the most skilled and most exciting player the team has ever had.  And as put by Gillis, his generation of NHL players yielded no match in those regards either.

So commence the mad appetite for ceremony admission and retro skate jerseys.  Congratulations, Mr. Bure.  Well-deserved and long overdue.

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