Russian Rocket hangs up skates

Pavel Bure, once one of the NHL's most-feared goal scorers, has retired from hockey at age 34 to take over as GM of Team Russia.

Pavel Bure, his speed corralled by multiple knee injuries, officially retired from hockey on Tuesday to take over as general manager of Russia's Olympic team.

Alexander Steblin, president of the Russian Hockey Federation, said Bure would lead the team at the 2006 Torino Winter Games in February. Bure's position is the same as Wayne Gretzky's with Team Canada.

Bure, 34, was dubbed the "Russian Rocket" for his dynamic speed and firepower, which made him one the NHL's most-feared snipers.

He hasn't played since injuring his right knee in 2003. During his 12-year career, Bure underwent five knee surgeries and two reconstructions.

"There comes a time when you have to make a decision and move on," he told reporters.

He won the Maurice Richard Trophy as the NHL's top goal scorer two times, notching 58 goals in 2000 and 59 in 2001. He also scored 60 goals in back-to-back seasons (1993 and 1994).

Internationally, Bure helped Russia capture a silver medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympic Games by scoring a record five goals in a 7-4 semifinal victory over Finland.

He also helped his country win Olympic bronze four years later in Salt Lake City.

Bure says the Russian national team will sport a new look under his guard, adding that the recent rash of internal squabbling and player boycotts is history.

"I can promise you one thing, from now on you won't see such a mess with the national team that you've seen here before," he said.

"You won't see grouchy players here anymore. Only those who really want to play for Russia will be called into the team."

Once a world hockey superpower with a record 23 world championships and eight Olympic gold medals, Russia has not won a world title since 1993.

"When I played I only strived to be the best, to win the gold and that's what I'm planning to achieve here as general manager," Bure said.

with files from Canadian Press