Sunday, November 03, 2013

Bure night: Trevor, the wife and Ron frickin' MacLean

Well that's that. From Jim Hughson at the podium to Pat Quinn seated at centre ice to the spirited fans chanting his name, the pre-game ceremony at Rogers Arena last night was a proper blast from the past and a success in enshrining Pavel Bure's superlative time as a Canuck.

Pavel Bure joining Smyl, Linden and Naslund in the
highest-possible honour to be bestowed on a Vancouver Canuck.
Photo by Sheriff Earp on Flickr.

If for whatever ill-begotten reason you have not yet watched the ceremony (or if you simply want to re-live the magic), I promise that I am reserving judgement, but good heavens man -- watch it here.

Now that we're all up to speed, here are a few of my thoughts on a night that was, if you trace the spark back to Bure's HHOF induction, in excess of a year in the making:

-This needs to get out of the way pretty quickly here (I mean the discussion pertaining to it, rather than the *ahem* items of discussion, themselves). But given that entire articles are being dedicated to it, here's my take. Bure's wife is a model in a country where Bure has the celebrity clout of Justin Bieber, Brad Pitt and Barack Obama combined. Of course she looks like that.

And for those in a conservative uproar, how else is he supposed to one-up the fact that his younger brother married DJ Tanner?

-Yes, yes, yes... Trevor Linden was not in attendance. And while there are those who will contend that this reflects very poorly on both Linden and Bure, I refuse to believe that there is anything -- among the more negative stances -- to it. 

It is far from uncommon for players to clash with one another. Hell, Linden had to contend with this fool in the dressing room for half a season, so it goes without saying that some players might not get along. But even if that were the case with Bure and Linden -- and there is nothing to indicate that it was -- you have to believe that, given the mutual esteem that exists between Linden and the Canucks, he would never let anything like that get in the way of being present for an occasion as important to the organization as this.

-It has often been very publicly and widely suggested that as an influential member of the HHOF committee, Pat Quinn had a heavy hand in "stone-walling" Bure's induction over those initial several years of eligibility. So can the whole Quinn-hated-Bure thing be finally put to bed now? 

In addition to the oft-cited rumour that Bure threatened to hold out in the middle of the 1994 run, it was widely believed that Bure went over Quinn's head to team ownership in order to negotiate his new contract that year. Well, Quinn immediately came to the vehement defence of Bure in regards to the initial claim and when Bure finally did make it to the Hall, Quinn was among the foremost individuals he thanked. 

And not only was Quinn one of the select few outside of Bure's family and Canucks ownership on the ice last night, in what was probably the most emotional exchange during his speech, Bure declared him "a great man" who mentored him both on and off the ice to rousing applause. Just beautiful.

-While it was easy to guess that Bure would have singled out Igor Larionov while thanking former teammates in his speech, was I the only caught off guard by the specific mention of Geoff Courtnall? I had no clue.

-I immediately reprimanded myself for thinking this, so for no other reason than correcting others who might have erroneously thought the same thing -- how is Bure's English so halting despite 12 years in the NHL? The reason I caught myself is easy. The same adage goes for hockey players as it does for any first-generation immigrant in multicultural Canada. We instinctively think less of those who lack fluency in English, but unless you yourself can declare yourself as unfailingly cogent in more than one language, the shame is truly all yours.

-Speaking of utter and complete shame, did anyone catch the abomination that was every single the ensuing Coach's Corner last night? While Don Cherry has not made sense for years, it's MacLean who has really succeeded in making subpar journalism a mainstay on HNIC. I can almost see where MacLean might have been going when he chose to highlight Cherry's weasel comments from 1993. 

Cherry was ready to really pay his respects to Bure, which of course, would have been seen as somewhat ironic, given his history of dragging his reputation through the mud over the years. By bringing up some of his previous such comments, you can see how it was an opportunity for Cherry to account for his previous criticisms, while still paying homage to Bure's overarching skill and career as a player. But the execution was nothing short of painfully awkward. Cherry either did not remember how he was going to piece it all together or did not anticipate MacLean airing the clip.

Shoddy, uncomfortable and, as always, on Coach's Corner, just plain disrespectful.

-Outside of Ron MacLean, at least the CBC had the wherewithal to lend Jim Hughson for the night as the ceremony's emcee. Hughson has always been a champion for the West Coast cause on CBC. You can routinely hear him correcting his Eastern-slanted colleagues when it comes to the Canucks. And with all due respect to Shorty, who emceed Markus Naslund's jersey retirement, between him and Huhgson, I don't really think it's even close.


All things told, Bure himself was altogether classy and, from what could be easily gleaned, genuinely thankful and humbled. And after an emotional 20-minute ceremony, now immortalized in the Rogers Arena rafters, the Canucks continued the show with an on-ice product that was every bit as good as the pre-game program. 

All that was missing was Zack Kassian successfully finishing his homage to Bure.

Congratulations, Pavel!


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