Pavel Bure dazzled
. He was flash and dash with supersonic speed. Adam Foote simply got the job done, time and time again. He was a leader, a rock, durable and dependable.
The pair of 42-year-old former hockey talents will be feted in pre-game ceremonies on Hockey Night in Canada Saturday. Foote will have his No. 52 hung in the rafters
by the Colorado Avalanche. The Vancouver Canucks will retire Bure's No. 10
They were two different players from two different parts of the world, sharing a similar honour on a Saturday night. The legendary Pat Quinn coached both players; Bure with the Canucks and Foote with the 2002 and 2006 Canadian Olympic teams as well as the Canadian team that captured the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
Quinn wondered whether Canada would have won a gold medal without Foote in 2002. The first game did not go well - a 5-2 loss to Sweden - and Quinn had doubts whether this talented Canadian group would pull together.
"We had a little trouble with some stars who wanted to play their own way," Quinn said in a telephone interview. "Quite frankly, after that first game we would not have gone on to win if it wasn't for the leadership of guys like Adam, Joe Sakic and [Mario] Lemieux. Coaches can get up and say all they want, but it took the leadership of key players like Adam.
"He was a leader and he was so dependable. I know there were other defencemen who got more credit on that team and in 2004 at the Word Cup, but Adam made a difference."
As different as Bure and Foote were as players the two are not without a connection or two. Both Bure and Foote broke into the NHL in 1991 as Bure won the Calder Trophy that season.
They, of course, had the occasional meeting in the NHL and they often clashed on the international scene with Foote asked to perform the difficult task of checking the shifty Bure.
Both represented their respective countries dutifully on the ice.
There also was the time Bure, then with the Florida Panthers, collided with Foote in a game on March 3, 1999 and re-injured his troublesome knee to end his season.
They were both selected in the 1989 NHL entry draft. The Quebec Nordiques chose Foote in the second round (22nd overall), while because of the uncertainty of Soviet players' availability back then, Bure waited until the sixth round (113th overall) to be taken by the Canucks.
Other teams cried foul, that Bure should not have been eligible for that draft. But Quinn and the Canucks had done their homework and stole the Russian Rocket in the sixth round.
"Pavel was special right from the first minute he put on skates for the Canucks," Quinn said. "He was what the fans were waiting for. Back then, they wanted someone who could scrap and someone who could score goals. We had Gino Odjick who could scrap and Pavel who could score. He was a highlight reel every time he touched the puck.
"Ironically, Gino and Pavel became good friends."
Odjick played a big role for Bure finally receiving the honour of having his number retired in Vancouver. Bure left the Canucks on bad terms after a contract dispute in the mid-1990s and hadn't been back until the 2010 Olympics.
But Odjick hashed out the possibility of Bure's night with Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini a while ago and the latter came around. It didn't hurt that Bure's former agent is current Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis.
Bure enjoyed a Hockey Hall of Fame career, although cut short a decade ago because of his knee problems. His health limited Bure to a combined 766 NHL regular season and playoff games. He made it to the Stanley Cup final once in 1994 and never won an Olympic gold, but did celebrate a world championship title with Russia in 1990 and a world junior crown in 1989.
He was a star at three world junior tournaments, playing on a line with Sergei Fedorov and Alex Mogilny in the first in 1989.
As a teenager, Bure played alongside men for his hometown CSKA Moscow, while Foote was finding his way in junior with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He never played in a world junior tournament, but Foote still exhibited as a teen he was a winner.
In his final year of junior, the Greyhounds went up against Eric Lindros and the heavily-favoured Oshawa Generals in the 1991 OHL final. Foote's assignment was to shutdown Lindros and he did just that. The Greyhounds beat Oshawa in six games.
The native of Whitby, Ont. was a three-time Olympian. He helped Canada end a 50-year drought with the big victory in Salt Lake City in 2002. He also helped Canada win the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and, of course, he played a big role in the Avalanche's two Stanley Cup championships in 1995-96 and 2000-01.
By the time he retired a few years ago, the solid two-way defenceman had played a combined 1,324 regular season and playoff games as well as another 34 for Canada in the Olympics, World Cup and world championships.
Off the ice, Foote has lived a quiet life compared to Bure, who dated tennis ace Anna Kournikova and wound up marrying a model. Foote and his wife Jennifer have two sons, ages 12 and 14, and both enjoy the game of hockey just like their dad.
The two remain active in the game. Foote joined the Avalanche coaching staff of his former road roommate, Patrick Roy, this season. Two months ago, Bure was given a Russian government post in charge of hockey in the southern Krasnodar Region. He has been given the mandate to set up a KHL team in Sochi after the Olympics.
"It's nice to see good people stay in the game," Quinn concluded.
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