Bure has some work to do before he rates mention with the league's best player. Just ask Vladimir. "This [Mario] Lemieux, he knows what going to happen a second before it happens! He is born to be a hockey player. Pavel is not near this guy," says Vladimir. His solution? "Pavel needs work, work, work."
Specifically, he needs to improve his defense. Also, Canuck general manager and coach Pat Quinn must frequently remind Bure not to try to do everything by himself. Early this season, says Quinn, "Pavel was becoming too individual in his play." Part of the problem was his center. When Igor Larionov left Vancouver at the end of last season to play in Switzerland, Bure's regular center was gone. He didn't click with either of Larionov's replacements, Greg Adams or Petr Nedved. On Nov. 3, Quinn traded for 30-year-old Anatoli Semenov of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Centered by his countryman, Bure has scored 13 goals in 13 games through Sunday.
Quinn was ebullient after Bure scored twice in Vancouver's 6-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Nov. 10. Bure's first goal was an uncanny individual effort. Carrying the puck in the circle to the left of the Sharks' net, Bure was repeatedly clobbered by San Jose's Brian Lawton, who finally knocked him to his knees. Somehow Bure retained control of the puck—and regained his feet. One second and two blurred strides later he had covered the 20 feet to the crease and stuffed the puck past paralyzed goalie Brian Hayward.
"A lot of guys would've quit on that play," said Quinn after the game. "We've had a lot of great—well, great's not the right word—highly talented Europeans come to our game. A lot of them don't have the grit to fight through the hooking and bumping and holding, and battle for the puck. Well, this kid's got grit."
Said a reporter, "Someone should show that goal to Don Cherry."
Someone should show that goal to Vladimir.