The local hockey populace is polarized over whether Pavel Bure’s jersey should be retired by the Vancouver Canucks while NHL owners and the players’ association are paralyzed in progression toward reaching a collective bargaining agreement.
So on a soggy Monday, it was left to Dan Hamhuis to part some of the clouds. After a 90-minute skate with members of the UBC Thunderbirds — then stopping to sign autographs and pose for pictures with wide-eyed Atom players participating in a tournament — the Canucks defenceman reflected on a day where the focus should be on Hockey Hall of Fames inductees Joe Sakic, Mats Sundin, Adam Oates and Bure. Especially the Russian Rocket.
“He was the guy I grew up watching and he was so exciting because every time he touched the puck something could happen right from his first game he played,” recalled Hamhuis. “It’s good to see his recognition with the Hockey Hall of Fame, and it’s well deserved.”
That’s one opinion. But what about raising No. 10 to the Rogers Arena rafters? Bure wasn’t going to accept a Ring of Honour consolation prize as the franchise’s most exciting player and the author of back-to-back 60-goal seasons and a 51-goal campaign.
And because he wasn’t warm and fuzzy — his contract controversies and eventual trade created a circus-like atmosphere — some simply don’t want his number associated with the retired digits of Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden and Markus Naslund. Hamhuis has no doubt whether Bure’s number should be raised.
“I think it should,” he said. “He’s well deserving of it and I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes.”
There’s never been any debate that Sakic would enter the Hall and that the Colorado Avalanche would retire his No. 19 jersey. The Burnaby native won two Stanley Cups, collected 625 career goals and 1,641 points over 1,378 games. He won Conn Smythe, Hart Trophy, Lester. B Pearson honours and Olympic gold. His legacy as one of the game’s great yet quiet leaders is unquestioned.
So was that shot that looked a lot like something Markus Naslund or Brett Hull would unleash in their primes. And for a defenceman like Hamhuis, trying to nullify Sakic in the slot was tough when the Smithers native played for the Nashville Predators.
“He had a tremendous wrist shot with a lot of power and speed behind it, but also that quick, deceptive release which fooled defencemen and goalies, and that was a big part of his success,” Hamhuis said of Sakic.
“It was real exciting to go up against him. He’s a guy I grew up respecting so much in how he handled himself on and off the ice and he was just a tremendous player internationally and with Colorado. It’s certainly a well-deserved honour.”
As for the CBA, as much as the owners and players agree on the concept of a 50-50 split of revenues, getting there in the next week to allow a shortened season to commence Dec. 1 won’t be easy. Players want a sliding scale to 50 per cent to protect contracts, while owners want a clawback in salaries.
Last week, the NHL offered $211 million over the first two years to honour existing contracts and the NHLPA wanted $590 million. The owners also want to change contracting issues and players don’t want to be limited to five-year deals in a new CBA that could put the salary cap ceiling at $59.9 million and the floor at $43.9 million.