In what many observers thought was an overdue move, the Hockey Hall of Fame's Selection Committee voted to induct former Panthers star forward Pavel Bure to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Bure will be inducted with Joe Sakic, Adam Oates and Mats Sundin. Notably, Brendan Shanahan was passed up on his first year of eligibility in favor of Oates, Sundin and Bure, all of whom have been passed over repeatedly by the committee.
Known primarily as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, Bure played parts of four seasons for the Panthers. He was traded to the Panthers in 1999 along with Bret Hedican, Brad Ference and a third-round pick for Ed Jovanovski, Dave Gagner, Mike Brown, Kevin Weekes and a first-round pick. The Panthers traded him to the Rangers at the 2002 for a bag of pucks (Igor Ulanov, Filip Novak and first, second and third round picks; all players involved payed a combined 119 games for the Panthers).
Bure was an explosive skater and sniper whose career was cut far too short by injuries. He played less than half a season three times: 15 games in 1995-96, 11 games in 1998-99, the season he was traded to Florida, and 39 in 2002-2003 for the New York Rangers in what would be his final season. Bure won a number of individual awards including the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year in 1992 and the Maurice "Rocket" Richard trophy for highest number of goals in the NHL in 2000 and 2001. He still holds the Panthers records set the two seasons he won the Richard: most goals (59) in 2000-2001 and most points (94) in 1999-2000.
As someone who grew up in New York and started seriously watching hockey in the very late 1990s, I didn't know much about the Panthers, but I knew Pavel Bure and watched Florida games just to see him play. I don't normally support any talk of retiring Panthers' numbers since the team hasn't really had a franchise player worthy of the honor. But in Bure's case, I have to support it. When the Flyers retired Mark Howe's number on his entry into the Hall last year, GM Paul Holmgren stated that alone should be enough for a team to retire a player's number. I can't say he's wrong, though it would be a stretch for the Panthers to retire a number for someone like Igor Larionov who played only a handful of games in a Panthers sweater. But Bure, though known more as a Canuck, twice won the "Rocket" Richard trophy as a member of the Panthers and is remembered as a Panther by those of us who came into hockey at the turn of the century. Bure's number 10 was also worn by five other players: Dave Lowry, Esa Tikkanen, Gary Roberts, David Booth and John Madden.
The Hockey Hall of Fame's press release can be found here.