Flashback: When Pavel Bure Almost Became A Ranger In 1999/Why Neil Smith Was Fired

Former Ranger Pavel Bure is being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame tonight. Below is a flashback to when Bure was traded from Vancouver to Florida, how the Rangers wanted him, and how Neil Smith ended up losing his job over it.


January 5, 1999: Bure wants out of Vancouver and Brian Burke has spoken with Neil Smith about a maybe sending Bure to the Rangers. Bure is going to be an RFA on July 1 and teams don’t want to trade for him unless they have an agreed upon extension in place with him.

It is believed that Neil Smith would move young Rangers Dan Cloutier and Manny Malhotra if they could acquire Bure in that 2 for 1 package.

Burke has asked the Rangers for Cloutier, Malhotra, Niklas Sundstrom and a first round pick for Bure.

January 18, 1999: Burke sends Bure to the Panthers and doesn’t call Neil Smith to see if Smith would give the Canucks a better offer for Bure than Florida did.

Burke reportedly had told Smith that he would call him when he was close to making a deal to trade Bure away.

The NHL reportedly wanted Bure to end up in New York and that Smith would have done whatever he could have to get the deal done.

Burke reportedly stood fast in his demands that the Rangers send Cloutier, Sundstrom, Malhotra, a first round pick and $1.5 million for Bure. Burke ended up acquiring Dave Gagner, Ed Jovanovski, Kevin Weekes and Mike Brown. Burke first demanded Rob Niedermayer from the Panthers but negotiated with them which is something that he reportedly didn’t want to do with the Rangers.

Bure was the Rangers top choice for a scoring forward and it’s likely that they will wait to make a move to add scoring until Theo Fleury and Mark Recchi become available during the summer.

January 19, 1999: Smith doesn’t think that Burke wanted to deal Bure to the Rangers

Smith was fired at the end of the following season by new owner James Dolan and pointed to this decision, where he didn’t want to give up young players, as to why he was fired.

I was trying to rebuild the team, and [Wayne] Gretzky was on the team and now Pavel Bure was available, so our owners here wanted me to do everything I could to get Bure. They were new owners and they didn’t understand that you had to do [to rebuild]. I was like, ‘No fucking way. I don’t want this guy. Even if I could get him on the team for free, I’m not going to do it.

In the next two and a half seasons, Bure scored 130 goals for the Panthers.

 




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