After much debate in Vancouver, Pavel Bure is about to be properly honored by his first NHL team.
Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province hears from former Bure teammate Gino Odjick about how Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini will meet with The Russian Rocket to bury the hatchet and honor him by retiring his number.
“It was touching, to have an owner that’s involved and recognizes he’s the first player with the Canucks to enter the Hall of Fame,” Odjick says.
“For him to fly from Vancouver makes this a really great week, I tell you. Francesco has been talking about [retiring his jersey] for quite a while.
“I don’t see it not happening.”
It’s been hotly debated in Vancouver for years about how Bure’s number hasn’t been retired by the team.
In seven seasons with Vancouver, Bure scored 254 goals with 478 points while leading them to the 1994 Stanley Cup finals before asking to be traded in 1999.
His demand to be moved still sits poorly with many fans and is the reason why many don’t want to see him honored the same way as former captains Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden, and Markus Naslund.
All that aside, he was their most dynamic and exciting player during his time in Vancouver and it was his time there that led to him being elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Colorado Avalanche forwards Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog grew up watching Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Patrick Roy and other greats dominate in burgundy and blue. If there was any doubt that the torch has been passed to the new generation of Avs, that should be put to rest as Forsberg’s number 21 raises to the rafters tonight.
Fittingly enough, the future Hall of Famer’s ceremony will serve as a prelude to a season-opening game against their greatest rivals, the Detroit Red Wings. While the Avalanche have floundered since losing legends, the Red Wings managed to stay relevant with savvy, proactive decisions.
Many people snickered when it became clear that Forsberg would give it one more go last season. The Avalanche didn’t exactly improve his odds by throwing him right back into the fire with back-to-back games and the results were depressingly predictable.
Forsberg retired after those two games while Adam Foote mercifully brought his career to an end this off-season as well. Now the only remnants of that outstanding era can be found in the Avalanche front office, with Sakic ranking as one of the many suits.
It’s up to Duchene, Landeskog, Semyon Varlamov, Erik Johnson and other mostly young players to make impressions of their own. The current Colorado crew is a big wild card, but at least they can turn the page for good on Oct. 8.
Update: Here is video footage of the jersey retirement ceremony. For more emotional Avalanche material, check out the team’s tribute to fallen players and current players wearing Forsberg’s number 21 before the game.
It’s an honor that’s been rumored for some time now, but Scott Niedermayer will officially get his due from the New Jersey Devils having his number retired.
Niedermayer’s no. 27 will be lifted to the rafters at Prudential Center in Newark on December 16 against the Dallas Stars. Niedermayer will join former defensemen Ken Daneyko and Scott Stevens as those honored by having their number retired by the team and proving that the Devils of the 90s and 2000s were all about being tough along the blue line.
Fire & Ice’s Tom Gulitti has the word from Devils GM Lou Lamoriello as to what Niedermayer meant to the organization and why he’s being honored by the team.
“Scott Niedermayer’s talent and leadership played significant roles in each of our three Stanley Cup Championships,” Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said in a statement released by the team. “We look forward to welcoming the Niedermayer family back to New Jersey as we retire Scott’s no. 27.”
Niedermayer’s career started with the Devils as part of one of the more inauspicious deals in NHL history. While the Devils selected Niedermayer third in the NHL draft in 1991, it was a pick the Devils acquired from Toronto in exchange for Tom Kurvers in 1989. The Leafs’ blunder turned into New Jersey’s ultimate gain as Niedermayer went on to have a, likely, Hall Of Fame career in New Jersey and Anaheim while Kurvers lasted just 89 games in Toronto before being shipped off to Vancouver for Brian Bradley late in 1991.
Niedermayer went on to win four Stanley Cups in his career, three with New Jersey and one in Anaheim but his career in New Jersey is what made him a legend in NHL circles including a Norris Trophy in 2003-2004. Niedermayer won the Conn Smythe with Anaheim in 2007. It’s an honor for the former Devil that comes a bit overdue since his retirement in last June.
Some Devils fans didn’t like how Niedermayer left the organization signing as a free agent with the Ducks after the lockout ended in 2005, but anyone thinking the Devils would’ve been as successful without his play is out of their mind. Niedermayer is one of the best the team and the league has seen over the years.