But I’ll give Bure the edge, perhaps for the ‘purity’ of skill I’m reminded of watching this video. I can’t describe it better than that—I’m sure others will have their own opinions. Regardless, I hope you’ll watch some of this footage… he really was spectacular in action.
From Legends of Hockey, let me steal Joe Pelletier’s comments:
No one loves to score as much as Bure. Even in practice he loves to see the twine bulge. In that sense Bure ranks as one of the greatest pure goal scorers in hockey history. Names like Mike Bossy and Rocket Richard are fair comparisons.
Bure is nicknamed the Russian Rocket because of his incredible speed. While some players can match his foot speed, what makes Bure so special is he can carry the puck at top speed. Most players just push the puck in front of them as they break down the wing; Bure is capable of deking through a top defenseman without losing steam. Sometimes he even dropped the puck into his feet and kick it by the blueliner, and then accelerate by him to get in alone. He was truly a magnificent player to watch, and you often watched with your jaw hanging open.
Bure was often said to have wanted a trade from Vancouver since the season after the ‘94 playoffs, though I don’t ever recall actually seeing a quote from him to that effect, just media reports and his own denials that it was even true. The result was probably unfair to Bure, as fans and the the press piled on him, resentful that he might want to leave. Eventually he did want out, of course, and sat out most (all?) of his last season in Vancouver before finally being traded to Florida in 1999.
Bure’s career was progressively plagued by injuries. His talent seemed endless, but his body paid the price for it. And while he had some good seasons after Vancouver, he never repeated the accomplishment of another 60 goal season (much less the two he had with the Canucks), and there was always an atmosphere of doom around how long he could play. Or so it seemed to me.
Bure’s career wound him past the New York Rangers before finally retiring in the 2002-03 season. He’s since been involved with the Russian national team and various business ventures. But he’ll always be remembered as the Russian Rocket to NHL fans.