Fanspeak: Pavel Bure voted greatest Panther in franchise history

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This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.

Florida Panthers

1. Pavel Bure (983)

2. John Vanbiesbrouck (479)

3. Roberto Luongo (134)

4. Scott Mellanby (132)

“The Russian Rocket” won’t get many votes for greatest player in NHL history, but like Wayne Gretzky, he was voted the greatest player in the history of two franchises. (“The Great One” took the voting for the Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers.)

Many of the Fanspeak winners were long-time favorites of their franchises and plenty of them own a slew of records for those respective teams. In the case of Bure with Florida, it’s more about making a big impact in a short time.

He only played with the Panthers for four seasons. He’s ninth all-time in franchise history in points. Florida didn’t draft him like, say, Ed Jovanovski. He’s not even first all-time in his elite skill of goal-scoring, but Bure scored 152 goals in just 223 games. That’s five fewer than second-place scorer Scott Mellanby, who did so in 552.

When it comes to Bure’s legacy, it’s about quality over quantity, and the Russian star enjoyed his last brilliant years with the Cats. He barely fell short of his career-high of 60 goals during his best days there, managing 58 in 1999-2000 and 59 in 2000-01 … aka the height of the Dead Puck Era.

Sure, some of this revolves around the Panthers being such an irregular playoff team – Roberto Luongo’s the only “modern” choice in the top four, and it’s certainly not because of his abbreviated return last season – but it says a lot about a star shining brightest rather than longest.

Here’s the entry on his Canucks days if you’re interested.