Dear Baby Boomers and Gen Xers,
Yeah, I know.
You’ve never seen a player as electrifying as Pavel Bure. The way he went up and down the ice, how he was faster and better than anyone. Millennials just wouldn’t understand.
Put aside for a second that I did watch Bure as a Canuck (in fact I was there at the Coliseum when he did the famous skate-to-stick move). None of that is important. What is imperative to understand is that, even though it wasn’t quite as “sexy” as how Bure did it, Elias Pettersson has been better and more dominant than any Canucks rookie in history.
He’s given hope in a way there just hadn’t been, at least not in a material way, since the Sedins started aging out of their primes. And yes, Bure also gave Canucks fans a reason to be excited in ways they hadn’t been before. They had decent players, yes, but Bure changed the game and changed the experience one had at the arena.
Take an objective look at the two players though, and it’s pretty clear Pettersson is the more impressive rookie. With his 61st point (in his 62nd game) tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks, Pettersson has passed Bure for most points by a Canucks rookie. (Bure hit 60 points in 65 contests and had more goals than Ivan Hlinka, who had 60 points as a 32-year-old rookie when that was a thing.)
And while Bure was absolutely electrifying, it must be said he played on a better team. The Canucks went 42-26-12. There were three players who scored more points than Bure. By contrast, the closest Canuck to Pettersson is Bo Horvat, who is eight points back and has played 11 more games. Last year’s rookie sensation Brock Boeser has 50 points in 59 games, not close to Pettersson’s pace. And the next closest scorer is Antoine Roussel, with 31 points.
So yeah, Pettersson has had to deal with some things Bure didn’t, at least not in his first season. The Canucks are one of the worst teams in the league and Pettersson has single-handedly made this team (relatively) exciting to watch and dangerous in the offensive zone (when he’s on).
He’s also excelled defensively, something Bure was never accused of during his playing career.
So while I know this is going to be hard to stomach and wrap your head around, and that you’ll probably still trod out old retreads like “Yeah, Pettersson’s great, but you’ve never seen anything like Bure”, understand this: You’ve never really seen anything like Pettersson either.
His smarts, hockey sense and skill are off the charts for a player of any experience level, nevermind a rookie. Despite concerns about his size, he’s dominated the competition and has arguably been the Canucks best defensive forward as well.
Bure has always garnered a level of respect not touched by other Canucks legends like the Sedins (he was more exciting than them, or so goes the story). But, at least in this respect, Pettersson has him beat.
Check back next year when we make the case that Pettersson is a more exciting player than Bure was.
An annoying millennial
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