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17 марта 2002 года.
Losing Bure could be boon for Panthers - Sun-sentinel

SUNRISE · Why wouldn't Pavel Bure welcome a trade to a contending team?

"Can you guarantee me a championship if I'm traded?" he asks.

Can he guarantee a contender if he stays?

"There are no guarantees," he says.

Here's one: Bure will be traded by the Panthers, if not before Tuesday's deadline, at some point in the summer. Here's another one: Everyone will be underwhelmed by what the Panthers receive in return.

And here's a final guarantee: The Panthers will be better without him.

No, this isn't a bash Bure column. He has been everything advertised. He has done exactly what he promised. He has scored goals. And tried to score goals. And hustled whenever there's a chance to score goals. And done nothing at all when a goal isn't in the frame. His game has all the dimension and design of a stick figure drawn by Rembrandt.

But, again, this isn't a bash Bure column. When you're the star on a hockey team that's this bad and needs so much, it's easy to be made into the fall guy. Especially when you've never been given a top-flight center to play with. Or a proper wing opposite you. And your team has had so little defense that much of the time it could have entered a pre-game plea of "no contest."

That's exactly why the Panthers must trade him. This team lacks so much. It needs too much. Bure isn't an opening piece to build a team around, which is where the Panthers still are today. He's the last piece for a contender. He's a hired gun who can throw a team over the top. Or he was.

Do you hear the silence from teams over his name being dangled? The most revealing part in the trade talks is how there is no Pavel Sweepstakes. Either his game is too small of late or his $10 million contract too big, but apparently only Dallas and the New York Rangers are in the hunt. And neither is pounding down the bargaining door.

In some ways, this shouldn't be surprising. Jaromir Jagr, like Bure one of the world's best players, netted only three prospects in his trade to Washington last summer. But in addition to whatever players come in a Bure trade, the equally important part is the Panthers regaining his $10 million to redo their roster.

Team owner Alan Cohen is clear on this: If the trade is made, it would be to redistribute money to fill holes. And so on a team that lacks talent, that needs everything but a goalie, Bure's departure could fill a handful of problems.

"I like it here," Bure was saying Friday night after a 5-2 win against Buffalo, a stretch of four games where the Panthers have won points that can't take the stench off this season.

"It's a great city, great fans, great place to play."

But does he see a great team in sight right now?

"We'll see what's going to happen in the summer," he says. "I don't want to talk about that until this season's over. But we'll see what happens."

Bure was showered, dressed and ready to go. Other players rode the bike. Others lifted weights. Others just sat around, talking with teammates, celebrating a rare good run.
Bure, when interested, can lift a team with his offense. Bure, when interested, can help change a season, entertain fans and create a buzz around a team.

But Bure appears about as interested in the Panthers right now as most Panther fans are. The inept management of Brian Murray and Bill Torrey has left this franchise with plenty of fast, small first- and second-line players and a roster rounded out with players trying to stay in the league with their fists. Pathetic planning, pathetic results, very pathetic hockey.

Bure isn't exempt. He doesn't work except to score. As after Friday's game, he is typically first out of the locker room after games or practices. He is hardly the type of player a young team wants to be its veteran example. It's telling that both coaches who have been fired during his Panther reign, Terry Murray and Duane Sutter, ripped Bure a week before each was fired.

But, again, this isn't a bash Bure column. His pros and cons are obvious. And just because it isn't working here doesn't mean it won't work at his next stop. He's the kind of player who plays to the level of team he's on.

It's hard to say who's running the Panthers' show, coach Mike Keenan or acting General Manager Chuck Fletcher.

But one winning trade was made in getting Sandis Ozolinsh and Byron Ritchie from Carolina. Now comes time to play the only chip this team has and redesign the roster.

It's time to see Bure not as part of a problem, but as a step to the solution.

Dave Hyde can be reached at dhyde@sun-sentinel.com.

Страничка Павла Буре на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


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"ЗВЁЗДЫ С ВОСТОКА" @ c 1997 года