Hockey Headlines

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Getting Older

The image to the left is a little harrowing for those of us who have been watching this game for some time. That's either Lev or Maksim Bure, sons of former NHL star Valeri Bure and TV star and personality Candace Cameron Bure, who was featured on Candace's Facebook page because, as she wrote, "The boys are wearing yellow jerseys this month to bring awareness to childhood cancer." That's awesome to see from a team featuring 14 and 16 year-old kids, but it dawned on me once I re-read Candace's statement: that's her boy wearing that jersey. That's Valeri Bure's son wearing that jersey!

I've been watching this game long enough to see the sons of players from my dad's generation roll through the NHL. Heck, I've seen third generation players such as Blake Geoffrion get drafted and play. It's a different feeling, though, when you see a player's son approaching draft-eligible ages who you watched being drafted and play. Suddenly, the effects of aging catches up to you in a hurry!

Bure was the 33rd-overall selection in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens after leaving the Soviet Union in 1991 to play for the WHL's Spokane Chiefs where he became the first Russian-born player to suit up in the WHL. After being drafted, Bure returned to Spokane for the 1991-92 season where he scored 147 points and set a franchise record for goals with 68. His first pro game was against the New York Islanders on February 28, 1995, and he recorded his first professional goal against the Wendell Young and the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 15.

While all of those achievements are certainly remarkable, they also mark some incredible times that the younger folk watching the game today won't remember. The 1995 New York Islanders, for example, wore the Fisherman jerseys as seen to the right, meaning Bure's first game was played against what many feel is the worst uniform in NHL history (I vehemently disagree). I'm not sure what this generation of kids feels about the Fisherman, but I know that my generation and the generation before it pretty much hated the Fisherman in all its forms.

Wendell Young is a name that won't be known to many younger fans today, but he was a star with the IHL's Chicago Wolves after his playing days in Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, but he's the only player in hockey history to have won the four major cups: the Memorial Cup (OHL's Kitchener Rangers in 1982), the Calder Cup (AHL's Hershey Bears in 1988), the Turner Cup (IHL's Chicago Wolves in 1998 and 2000), and the Stanley Cup (NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992). He wasn't an overly exceptional goalie at the NHL level, but he was a serviceable netminder who played minutes when called upon. He was, however, an excellent goaltender in the minor leagues, and he's proven this with his success in the blue paint at the AHL and IHL levels. Today, Young is the GM of the Chicago Wolves.

Bure, on the other hand, runs a winery in California with his wife, Candace, and their two boys obviously are playing hockey. Valeri had a solid NHL career that was cut short due to a lingering hip injury, but he managed to lead the Calgary Flames in scoring in 1999-2000, a season in which he and his brother, Pavel Bure, set the NHL record for goals scored by two brothers in a single season with 93. And now it appears that Lev and Maksim Bure could be destined for the NHL at some point to challenge their father's and uncle's record.

I appreciate hockey history, and I really hope the new generation of hockey fans finds that same appreciation as they move through their own timelines. Kudos to the team that the two Bure boys are on for getting word out about childhood cancer with their awesome yellow jerseys. In the end, though, time waits for no man, as the adage goes, and it seems that I am now the generation that used to talk about people my dad's age harrowing back to the days of Orr, Lafleur, and Hull. That's Bobby Hull, not Brett Hull, kids.

We've already seen the next wave of Sutters get drafted. Matthew Tkachuk will eventually be a Calgary Flame after his dad spent years in Winnipeg, St. Louis, Phoenix, and Atlanta. Martin Brodeur was in Columbus this week to watch his son tend nets for the Blue Jackets in their rookie camp. Even Wayne Gretzky's baby daughter now has a baby of her own and a husband.

With the NHL getting younger, expect the wave of former players' kids to continue. It's the natural evolution of the game, but sometimes I feel like I've been left in its wake when I see players I watch get drafted supporting their kids at the draft. To say it's surreal just makes me sound old.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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