Tuesday, November 13, 2012

1998 Russia National Team Pavel Bure Jersey

One of the four 2012 inductees into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Pavel Bure was once selected to practice with Wayne Gretzky and Vladislav Tretiak for a television program at the age of 11. By the age of 14, Bure was named to the famed Central Red Army's junior team.

In 1986, five years before playing in Vancouver as a professional, Bure toured Canada with a Soviet youth team and played a game at the Pacific Coliseum, his future home rink.

He made his debut with the Central Red Army senior club in 1987-88 at the age of 16 as a fill-in player when the Red Army Club was without several regulars who were participating in the 1987 Canada Cup. In all, he managed to get into five games, which included scoring his first goal.

While with CSKA Moscow, Bure was teamed with Alexander Mogilny and Sergei Fedorov, a dangerously potent line combination that was set to dominate not only Soviet hockey, but international hockey for years to come, until politics interfered and changed everything.

Bure CSKA, Bure CSKA

Bure set a Soviet League record for goals by a rookie in 1988-89 when he totaled 17 goals in 32 games, a mark that would stand for 18 years as CSKA continued their dominance by winning the league championship for the 13th consecutive season. He was recognized for his for his efforts by being named the league's rookie of the year. He also participated in the 1989 World Junior Tournament, with his eight goals tying for the tournament lead. Additionally, his 14 points led the competition in scoring, earning him Best Forward honors while leading the Soviet Union to the gold medal.

Mogilny would later defect after that spring's World Championships in Sweden, breaking up the line the Soviets expected would lead them into the future.

Later on June 17, 1989, thanks to some detective work by their head scout, the Vancouver Canucks were able to draft Bure one year earlier than many thought he would be eligible due to a rule that stated he needed at least two seasons of play, with a minimum of 11 games each season, for his top-level European club.

Although Bure only played in five league games, it was discovered he had also competed in enough exhibition and international games to make him eligible to be chosen 113th overall in the 6th round. The Detroit Red Wings had even been told by an NHL vice-president that Bure was not eligible prior to their fifth round pick. Verbal complaints and written protests followed, which resulted in a formal investigation, which ended in league president John Ziegler declaring the pick illegal on May 17, 1990.

Bure would compete in the 1990 World Junior Championships, this time scoring seven goals in seven games, but come up short with a silver medal. Later that spring he made is debut with the Soviet National Team as a 19-year-old at the World Championships in Switzerland in which he scored six points in ten games on the way to a gold medal.

Pavel Bure
Pavel Bure at the 1990 World Junior Championships

Another international tournament was on the calendar for 1990, this time in Seattle, Washington for the Goodwill Games. While the Soviet Union won the gold medal, and Bure contributed four goals and an assist in five games, the tournament is best remembered for the defection of Bure's other linemate, Fedorov, who tried to persuade Bure to defect with him. Bure declined out of concern for repercussions against his brother Valeri, who was then an up and coming 15-year-old in the Soviet Union.

After the Canucks selection of Bure was negated by the league's ruling, Vancouver appealed to the league and provided game sheets proving his participation in the required number of games. On June 15, 1990, the day before that year's Entry Draft in which Bure would have been fair game for any team who wished to select him, Vancouver's selection of Bure was permanently reinstated.

In Bure's third season with Central Red Army in 1990-91, he tied for the team lead in scoring with 46 points in 44 games. His 35 goals were one behind the league leader in that category. During the season he also participated in his third World Junior Championships. Bure finished as the tournament's leading scorer once more following his 12 goal, 15 point effort, but had to once more settle for a silver medal. He concluded his junior career with a tournament record 27 goals.

Bure CSKA, Bure CSKA
Bure as a member of the famed Central Red Army team

Later that spring he participated in the 1991 World Championships where he tied for the team lead with 11 points in 11 games on his way to a bronze medal finish.

Bure left Moscow on September 6, 1991 and the Canucks began to negotiate a contract with him, but before it could be finalized, the Canucks also had to deal with the Central Red Army club, who had an existing contract with Bure. The two sides met in late October of 1991 in Detroit and in the end, Bure was free to join the Canucks following a $250,000 payment to Central Red Army. Once that deal was settled, Bure signed a four year contract with Vancouver, making him the second highest paid player on the team behind only team captain Trevor Linden.

Due to the court proceedings, Bure missed the first month of the season and eventually made his NHL debut on November 5, 1991 against the Winnipeg Jets which ignited "Pavel-mania". His speed on the ice was eye-catching and led to his eventual nickname of "The Russian Rocket".

Pavel Bure
Prior to his NHL debut, Bure poses for one of
Upper Deck's unconventional "lifestyle" cards

After a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings on November 7th, Bure got his first NHL point on November 10th with an assist on a goal by Cliff Ronning in a 6-0 win over the New York Islanders. As he adjusted to life in North America and the NHL style of game, he was able to score 12 goals in 42 games. It was at that point that Bure caught fire and surged to the end of the season with a stellar 22 goals in his final 23 games, which sent Vancouver into a frenzy and gave him 34 goals and 60 points in 65 games, which tied a team record for points by a rookie.

Pavel Bure
Bure as a rookie in 1991-92

Once in the playoffs, Bure registered his first hat trick during Game 6 of the Canucks opening round series against Winnipeg. The Canucks would participate in two rounds of the playoffs that season, with the confident rookie scoring 6 goals and 10 points in 13 games.

At the conclusion of the season, Bure was named the winner of the 1992 Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year, the first Canuck's player to win an individual award in the team's 21 seasons.

Pavel Bure
Bure poses with the Calder Trophy

Now with a full year of experience and confidence under his belt, Bure got off to a flying start, scoring a career high four goals in only the third game of the season. He also set Canucks team records for goals and points in a period when he scored three goals and added an assist during the second period of the Canucks game against the Winnipeg Jets. Additionally, his four goals set a team record for goals in a game and shorthanded goals in a game, as two of Bure's goals came with the Canucks a man down.

That season he participated in his first NHL All-Star Game, scoring twice for the Campbell Conference. Not long after the all-star game, Bure set the Canucks team record for goals in a season with his 46th goal, passing Tony Tanti's mark of 45. He continued to light the lamp at a furious pace, hitting the 50 goal mark on March 1st in a neutral site game in Hamilton, Ontario against the Buffalo Sabres.

March 9th saw Bure pass Patrik Sundstrom's franchise record of 91 points with a pair of assists in a 7-2 win over the New Jersey Devils before reaching the rarified air of the 60 goal plateau, which he accomplished during a 6-3 win over the Calgary Flames. Bure would finish his sophomore season with exactly 60 goals and 50 assists for 110 points.

He duplicated the 60 goals again the following season as part of a nearly identical 107 point season in 1993-94, and added another 16 goals and 31 points in 24 games as he led the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Finals. He would play four more seasons with the Canucks, including scoring 51 goals in his final season in Vancouver in 1997-98.

He only played 11 games during his first year with the Florida Panthers, but was worth the wait when he unleashed back to back 58 and 59 goal seasons in 1999-00 and 2000-01, leading the league in goals both times.

Bure Panthers, Bure Panthers
Two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner Pavel Bure

The Panthers acquired his brother Valeri in 2001-02, but after 56 games, during which he scored 49 points to lead the Panthers for the season, he was traded to the New York Rangers in March. More knee injuries limited him to just 39 games in 2002-03 and forced him to miss the 2003-04 season. After the 2004-05 season was canceled due to the lockout, the additional time off still did not allow Bure to return to full health and he announced his retirement in November of 2005.

In 12 NHL seasons, Bure played in 702 games, scoring 437 goals and 779 points and played in six NHL All-Star Games, including being named the game's MVP in 2000.

Internationally, Bure played in three World Juniors, winning gold in 1989 and silver medals in 1990 and 1991. At the World Championships, he won gold in 1990 and a silver in 1991. Eligible for the Olympics thanks to the NHL's full cooperation, he was able to earn a silver in 1998, along with being named the tournament's Best Forward, and a bronze in 2002. Earlier this year, Bure was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation's Hall of Fame.

Today's featured jersey is a 1998 Russia National Team Pavel Bure jersey. This jersey was intended to be used by Russia at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, but was never actually worn by the Russians.

The story behind this jersey comes from the designer of the jersey who did all the jerseys for the 1998 Olympics while he worked at Nike: "My personal favorite of the '98 series that unfortunately never made the ice. We had gotten so far into the process that yes, we had released replicas and authentics at retail. If my memory is correct we only did replicas blank, the authentics got name and numbers.

"The real story is that we came within weeks of the Olympics and then (Valentin Sych) a top ranking official in Russian hockey (the guy who approved everything) mysteriously died, i.e. "assassinated". Next thing we know we get a call and they no longer want the jersey and we scramble to try and revise it, strip it down, etc...  and finally run out of time and have to settle with giving them the '96 World Cup jerseys since we have stock and could easily produce them again. We never really heard the "too Soviet" complaint, we just heard "He's dead and we don't want it now."

The designer also related that the pyramid shapes running down the arms were inspired by similar shapes on the domes of St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square in Moscow.

As the designer stated, the jersey was originally approved and had made its way into the marketplace, with the blank ones being sold with letter sizes (L, XL) and the authentics, sold with numbered sizing (48, 52), which all came with Sergei Fedorov's name and number 91.

We were able to obtain a blank one, and with all customized examples being Fedorovs, we chose to take an alternate route and had ours lettered with team captain Pavel Bure's #10, with the name being done as "P. Bure" due to Pavel's brother Valeri Bure also being on the roster. Note that the name, number and "C" are a pale champagne color, and not white, a detail often lost in photos of the pre-customized ones and simply done incorrectly in white on some of the non-Fedorov examples we have seen.

Russia B 98 unused jersey, Russia B 98 unused jersey
Russia B 98 unused jersey, Russia B 98 unused jersey

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1995-96 Vancouver Canucks Pavel Bure jersey. This jersey was part of the very first group of NHL alternate jerseys introduced in 1995-96.

While this jersey was fairly unconventional for it's day, particularly for it being one of the first three jerseys to use gradients thanks to the dye-sublimation process, diagonal lines had been introduced into jersey design by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim two years earlier.

While this jersey was only used for two seasons, it certainly outlived the outright failures of the Mighty Ducks and Los Angeles Kings alternates, which were scrapped only after being worn six times each. The Canucks jersey would have likely lasted longer than just two seasons, but fell victim to the club introducing an entirely new color scheme and logo thanks to a change in ownership at the time.

The two years of this jersey's lifespan coincided with the two seasons that Bure changed from his original #10 to #96 before changing back to #10 for the 1997-98 season, which saw the new orca whale logo and team colors arrive.

Vancouver Canucks 95-96 alt jersey, Vancouver Canucks 95-96 alt jersey
Vancouver Canucks 95-96 alt jersey, Vancouver Canucks 95-96 alt jersey

In today's video segment, a look at what could have been, with Bure, Mogilny and Fedorov playing together at the 1989 World Junior Tournament.

Finally, here is Bure's speech on the occasion of his induction into the Hall of Fame.

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