The person who found Pavel Bure celebrates 50 years within the sport

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GLENDALE – Each hockey basically and the NHL particularly are chock filled with excellent folks. And so they don’t get significantly better than Toronto Maple Leafs professional scout Mike Penny, who’s celebrating 50 years within the sport this season.
Mike Penny found Pavel Bure. He doesn’t go round bragging about that, although it’s a type of career-defining achievements. The 72-year-old was working because the chief scout of the Vancouver Canucks on the time and it’s attention-grabbing to notice that, like Penny, the Canucks are celebrating their 50th anniversary. Whereas it’s acknowledged that each Henrik and Daniel Sedin, and various different gamers, had higher careers as Canucks, Bure is essentially the most dynamic, famous person degree participant ever to don a Canucks uniform.
For these of you not accustomed to the story, the Canucks took Bure within the 1989 draft and different groups went berserk. The Detroit Pink Wings, who had already taken Mike Sillinger, Bob Boughner, Nicklas Lidstrom and Sergei Fedorov by the point the Canucks took Bure 113th (and would get Dallas Drake and Vladimir Konstantinov in later rounds to spherical out the best draft in NHL historical past), had each intention of taking Bure, however thought he was ineligible. However extra on that later.
The Griffiths household, who owned the Canucks on the time, was beginning to make inroads within the former Soviet Union and saved inquiring about tips on how to get one in all their greatest younger gamers. So Penny began going there. If this have been immediately, the hockey world would have recognized Bure by the point he was 13 or 14, however a lot of that nation and its gamers have been shrouded in secrecy. It was a really completely different time. Penny remembers going to Moscow and checking right into a resort that had two channels. “One had the ballet,” Penny recalled, “and the opposite had Soviet tank maneuvers.”
Mike Penny (R) has been with the Maple Leafs since 2000. (Dave Sandford/Getty Pictures/NHLI)The Canucks had already taken Igor Larionov within the 1985 draft and KLM linemate Vladimir Krutov the subsequent 12 months and each would go on to play for the Canucks. Two years later, Penny was in Moscow watching the Pink Military observe and inquired to Larionov a couple of small, dynamic ahead who stood out from the others. “I requested Larionov, ‘Who’s that man?’ ” Penny stated. “And he stated, ‘Oh, he’s a younger child they introduced up. His title is Bure.’ And I stated, ‘Oh, actually. How previous is he?’ And Larionov stated, ‘Oh, 16 or 17.’ In the event you have a look at the groups (former Pink Military and Soviet nationwide staff coach Viktor) Tikhonov had at these instances, and I’m pondering, ‘This child is enjoying with these guys? Put him in your radar display screen.’ ”
By the point Bure’s draft 12 months got here round, he was well-known by scouts. In any case, he was enjoying within the prime Soviet League and had torn aside the 1989 World Junior Championship in Alaska with linemates Sergei Fedorov and Alexander Mogilny. Any staff might have taken him within the first three rounds, however with no ensures he would ever play, none did. At the moment, in an effort to take a European junior aged participant after the third spherical, he needed to have performed not less than 11 Worldwide Ice Hockey Federation-sanctioned video games together with his nation’s males’s nationwide staff and it was typically thought that Bure had solely performed 10. And that’s the place Penny’s diligence grew to become his largest benefit.
That season, Penny had been in Finland over Christmas and was instructed by European scout Goran Stubb that the Soviet nationwide staff was enjoying towards Finland in Vierumaki on Christmas Day and Bure can be enjoying. Penny borrowed Stubb’s automobile and drove to the sport and was the one scout there. For some purpose, that sport was not included within the complete, however Penny knew it needs to be as a result of it was recorded on an IIHF scoresheet. And that sport gave Bure the 11 video games he wanted to be eligible.
“We have been in Minnesota for the draft and it got here to our decide and I stated, ‘Pat (Canucks GM Quinn), take this man,’ ” Penny stated. “And I stated, ‘Sure, he’s. Let’s take him. What have we bought to lose with a sixth-round decide? If he’s not eligible, who cares?’ ”
The decide was suspended for a league investigation. Brian Burke argued the case to the league on behalf of the Canucks and prevailed. A little bit greater than two years later, Bure was within the Canucks lineup and probably the most dynamic, jaw-dropping, irritating and, finally, acrimonious careers in Vancouver bought its begin.
Penny started his administration profession when he was employed by the New York Rangers as an newbie scout in 1970, doing faculty scouting on the weekends and scouting for the Kitchener Rangers (within the days when NHL groups nonetheless had affilations with junior groups). He went on to change into GM of the Kitchener Rangers in 1975 and stayed there till he was employed by the Canucks in 1981. It was there that he solid a friendship with Pat Quinn when the latter was employed as coach of the Canucks in 1990.
“I didn’t know Pat personally and the primary time I met him was in Detroit on the Nice Lakes faculty match,” Penny stated. “I walked up and stated, ‘Pat, Mike Penny. I’m your chief scout.’ He stated, ‘Had been.’ I stated, ‘Maintain it, massive man.’ ” As soon as Quinn grew to become GM in Toronto, he employed Penny as his director of participant personnel in 2000 and Penny has been with the Leafs ever since.
One of many sport’s nice all-time storytellers, Penny talked a couple of scouting journey to Molot Perm to view a goalie by the title of Nikolai Khabibulin. Shortly after taking off, Penny observed that there have been canine and chickens rising from the washroom. “We’re flying alongside and on comes the pilot, speaking Russian. I don’t know what he’s saying,” Penny stated. “A British man is sitting subsequent to me and he says, ‘What did he say?’ And I stated, ‘They’re all out of crimson wine and there aren’t sufficient meals for anyone. How am I imagined to know what he stated.’ A Russian man beside me stated, ‘We’ve engine drawback.’ We landed someplace in the midst of nowhere. We ended up caught there and I by no means noticed Khabibulin.’ ”
So Penny missed out on Khabibulin, however that occurs. He additionally hasn’t received a Stanley Cup. However he nonetheless has one 12 months after this one on his contract and maybe if the Leafs decide up their socks…
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Tags: vancouver canucks, toronto maple leafs, nhlConnect: Concerning the AuthorKen CampbellKen Campbell, The Hockey Information’ senior author, is in his second tour with the model after an eight-year stint as a beat reporter for the Maple Leafs for the Toronto Star. The Sudbury native as soon as tried out for the Ontario League’s Wolves as a 30-year-old. Evidently, it did not work out.

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