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Re: The Russian Ricket

True enough, Sather gave up nothing. He originally thought he'd have to give up York, but found he didn't, then got Poti and Rem Murray for him. Here's the thing. LAST year's Bure was great, LAST year's Poti and Murray were great. This year, none of 'em are as good as they were before. York, on the other hand, is having a pretty good season, yet though his potential is huge, it's still unclear whether he'll ever be more than a second-liner. So the whole thing might be a wash.

But I still happen to think Bure's fantastic. They're not so sure in Florida, though, as evidenced by this article in today's South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which appears below (followed by a pithy Edmonton Sun piece on Poti, Murray and York):

Players won't miss Bure

By Michael Russo

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Staff Writer

Posted March 20 2002

SUNRISE Pavel Bure exhilarated South Florida hockey fans by leading the NHL in goals for two consecutive seasons, but there were few tears shed over the Russian Rocket's departure from the Panthers' dressing room Tuesday.

A number of Panthers players lashed out at Bure one day after he was traded to the New York Rangers. They accused the superstar right wing of not being a leader, of being a distant teammate and of not always showing commitment to the team and winning.

"Any fan or anybody that doesn't think the organization did the right thing by trading Pavel, if they spent five minutes in the dressing room, they wouldn't be speaking negatively about the trade," goaltender Trevor Kidd said.

It's not that Bure is a bad guy or considered a cancer in the locker room. Teammates were upset with Bure's indifferent attitude toward the game. Teammates noticed him spending less time with the team. They felt he "showed up" only when he felt like it and hurt the team by dodging contact and not playing the system.

"For me, I'm disappointed playing with Pavel this year," Bill Lindsay said minutes after finding out Montreal had claimed him off waivers. "Ten million dollars, I expected more from him. He's a guy playing 30 minutes a night, and if I'm going to bust my b---- playing eight minutes a night -- look, I'm not the best player in the world, but I'm going to damn well try hard. And I've got to come and watch a guy that makes $30 million come to the rink last and leave first. I was slightly disappointed. Not slightly, I was disappointed. He's our leader and if he's with us and helping us, we jell and we're winning more hockey games.

"And Pav's not a bad guy off the ice. He's a good guy. There's nothing wrong with him, but heck, he's making $10 million and he had to be our guy. If our $10 million guy doesn't care, we're not going to win."

When told about his teammates' comments prior to making his Rangers debut Tuesday night, Bure said, "Everybody has their opinion, and I can't do anything about it. Would I say something bad about them? No, I would never do that and I never will because I think it's no class.

"I've played with big stars like Mark Messier, and we're still friends. I care about what he has to say because he's Mark Messier. Look at where this is coming from."

Animosity was created at the start of the season when coach Duane Sutter named co-captains, having Paul Laus and Bure share the C.

"Maybe that was a role [Bure] wasn't comfortable with," Laus said. "He's a shy, private guy. You can't say, `OK, because you're a superstar, it's got to be this way.' It's like going to Kristian [Huselius], `We need you to fight.' You can't just put [leadership] into someone."

On a team as young as the Panthers, Olli Jokinen said Bure wasn't always the best influence.

"When I was in Los Angeles, we had Rob Blake," Jokinen said. "When you compare him to Pavel, it's a lot different. Blake was like taking care of the young guys, he was captain, he was a leader in the locker room, too. But Pavel's quiet over here, and he's got his own program.

"I used to go to the rink two hours before practice and I'd see Blake in the weight room every time. For Pavel, he's the first to leave practice. It's not a big deal to me, but my first year, I looked up to guys like Blake on and off the ice. So I don't think Pavel was a perfect example maybe for the younger guys."

While there's no denying Bure is in perfect shape, he worked out on his own. After practices and games, the Panthers hang out at the arena and work out together. He never tried to involve himself in team camaraderie.

"You can't force a guy to be around the guys," Laus said. "He had his own things. You can't grab him and say you have to be here 24 hours a day. We thought with his brother [Valeri] here that maybe that would have brought him closer, but it didn't."

Coach Mike Keenan said: "It's a tough combination because you have a frustrated group who hasn't had a lot of success the last two years and an individual scorer who's won back-to-back Rocket Richard Trophies and that's his job. But maybe Pavel could have made a little bit more of an effort in terms of not being perceived as distant."

Bure scored 152 goals (second in franchise history) and 251 points in 223 games and rewrote the Panthers' record book in more than two dozen categories.

Kidd said: "Everybody that's been around him knows what he brings to a team. That's goals and that's it. A lot of people probably won't understand if you just look at the goals, but if you have a guy making that much money, there has to be other things involved than just putting the puck in the net.

"Look around the league at guys making that kind of money. Joe Sakic, Paul Kariya, they're solid goal scorers, but they offer so much more to the team."

Lindsay felt betrayed.

"[Bure's] a great player. He's electric," Lindsay said. "He left everyone craving for that. We needed that from him in the room. The one experience I had from winning was that [1996] Stanley Cup run.

"I could look every one of those guys in the eye and say, `Thank you man, you gave it your all.' If I have to shake Pav's hand, you know what, I don't know if I could really do it and tell him thanks for everything. I felt in a way he hung me out to dry because he's better than that and he knows he's better than that."

Michael Russo can be reached at

It's a winner!

Lowe beats up on Sather, getting York, a player with a big heart, for Poti, a player Slats once confided was 'chicken spit'

By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

The thing I don't like about the deal is that Glen Sather was on the other end of it.

Then again, is this the same Sather?

It's one thing that he just picked up a $10-million US salary for the biggest floater in hockey. But now he's just traded a low-priced, high-return young talent with a big heart for Tom Poti of whom he once confided "we've got to trade this guy before everybody in the league finds out that he's chicken spit.''

Now Sather is going to turn chicken spit into chicken salad?


Rem Murray I understand. Sather is hoping the Rem Murray the New York Rangers are getting is the one he had when he was here, not the guy who has done next to nothing most of this season.

Poti, I've been telling you for many months now, is a guy the Oilers are better off without. Murray went from being a rare heart to a spare part.

So what's not to like about the deal? You give up a liability and nothing for Mike York? You get a guy who has more assists and more points than anybody in your lineup?

Now maybe this is like one of Sather's first deals where he played Blair MacDonald with Wayne Gretzky ("A fire hydrant could score 40 goals playing with Wayne Gretzky'') then traded him to the first sucker to come along, which happened to be the Canucks.

York comes here with 18 goals, 39 assists and 57 points playing with Eric Lindros and Theo Fleury. But he had 50 points in his rookie season. And the kid has great numbers in the faceoff circle.

And, yes, I remember the old master Cliff Fletcher taking his Calgary Flames' replacement Doug Risebrough to the cleaners with a big deal, too.

But I don't think the old mentor has outfoxed his protege. Neither, obviously, does Lowe.

"Of all the major deals I've done in my brief tenure, and there have been a few of them, this is the one I feel the most comfortable with,'' said Lowe. "This one I spent the most time on.

"By all accounts, Mike York is a phenomenal person with lots of energy who never leaves anything on the ice. He's stepping into our lineup as our top point-getter. I think Edmonton fans are going to appreciate his abilities. He has 'Edmonton Oiler' written all over him.''

York, 24, is making $675,000 US. He fits the profile and the salary structure. This trade wasn't about money, but York is making about $1.5 million less than Poti and Murray combined.

You know where I am on the subject of the much-maligned Mr. Poti. I'm the much-maligner. I'm the guy who wrote the controversial 'Poti's Gotta Go' column a couple of months ago.

He's scored one goal! And nobody has kept score of all those gigantic giveaways that take the air out of a team and take goalies off their game.

I don't think it's a coincidence that the Oilers record with Poti out of the lineup this year was 10-5-2. I think they're better without him.

Maybe they'll miss his minutes (24:32 a game). But not for long. The Oilers have young defensive talents coming up and just traded penalty-prone press-box regular Sean Brown to Boston for another one in Bobby Allen.

To me the biggest thing with Poti is that he was never going to have '`Edmonton Oiler'' written all over him.

The guy has 29 hits this year. He's a wuss. And I understand why he's a wuss. He's had to live his life so careful because of all his allergies and condition, that he plays the game the same. That's why he has the league's longest stick. So he can reach in instead of go in.

"Mike York is a small little player but he's one of the grittiest in the game. He plays the game like Edmonton fans want him to play,'' said Lowe.

Maybe, for the purposes of the playoffs, Kevin Lowe made this deal too late. We'll see.

But the Oilers are a better club today than they were yesterday for now and for the future.


"I never had a player of this type for him until as recently as today,'' said Lowe.

On balance, they have a lot better balance.

"We've had more problems scoring than keeping it out of our own net,'' is how Lowe put it.

I asked Lowe what it was like to deal with Sather.

He thought about it, laughed, tried to put words to it and finally said, "It was interesting. It was a good experience.''

It was also a good trade.

A very good trade.

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How could the Rangers NOT have made this deal? They gave up nothing. But they will probably still miss the playoffs.

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That's all fine and dandy if Bure is washed up, which he most definitely is NOT. Having said that, I agree that Bure is probably not the missing ingredient for the Blueshirts. They need a complete overhaul .......... --G

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That seems to be Sather's answer to everything. Get the biggest available star. Everything'll work out fine if we just keep recycling other people's stars.

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Speaking of Bure, just what the heck was Sather thinking when he made that trade?

I can't see Bure being that missing ingredient the Rangers need to get over the hump.


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If it brings a smile to your face, I'm a happy man. Thanks for saying that, Alex. Hey, "Pavel Bure" was written by Kerry Banks, by the way.

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Well, the Compendium is one of those books which always puts a smile on my face, so that's why it's indispensible for me. Also, it has borne up well to repeated reading.

I read way too many Stan Fischler books when I was a young pup, so I'm glad not to see those on your list. I have Net Worth, and have read Gross Misconduct, but I'll have to hunt down Tropic of Hockey (maybe I'll use my $25 gift cert for Coles/Chapters on it?) at some point.

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"Tropic of Hockey", by Dave Bidini, definitely. For muckraking and the kind of useful history you don't get in conventional hockey books, "Net Worth", by Alison what's her name and her writing partner, a guy (sorry to be so sketchy), and "Gross Misconduct", by Russ Conway. Those are two books that really made a difference. A good recent bio: "Pavel Bure", by a guy who writes for an alternative paper out in Vancouver (sorry to be sketchy again). Fiction, hands down: "King Leary", by Paul Quarrington. And I don't know that I would include the Compendium on your list, Alex, but chacun a son gout.

P.S.: Best poem: "I'll Take Hockey, Every Time" by John Kieran, c. 1929. Karl, do you have the full text handy to reprint here?

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Which hockey books are absolutely indispensible? I'm thinking of Total Hockey, K&R Compendium, the yearly Guide & Record Book, The Game by Dryden... but what books would you add to this list?