TORONTO -- In the opening video before introducing the first inductee, Pat Quinn compared Pavel Bure's yearning to be the best to that of Bobby Orr.
Pretty high praise for the first inductee in the Class of 2012, but certainly hard to argue against it considering the career that Bure had on both the international and National Hockey League level.
The Russian Rocket scored 437 goals and 779 points in an injury-shortened 702-game NHL career. He got up to 60 twice and scored in the 50s three more times. His hands were remarkable and his skating was, well, untouchable.
"Pretty rocket like," Quinn said. "He was a scoring machine."
Bure, wearing a bow tie, received his plaque from Hall of Fame Chairman and CEO Bill Hay and stepped to the podium.
He said he was "honored to be here and truly humbled to be in the company of such an elite group of individuals."
Bure thanked the Selection Committee, congratulated his fellow inductees, and went into his speech.
He mentioned how sometimes he plays on the same line as Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is just getting into the game.
Bure thanked his parents, who he said taught him to be a gentleman. He started playing at six years old and said some of his first memories are of his mom packing his hockey bag and heading to the subway to go to the rink.
"I could only feel excitement, not knowing how hard it was for my mom," Bure said. "It only became more difficult when my little brother Valeri, who later became an NHL star, started to play."
Bure said now that he has a family he realizes all the sacrifices his family made to allow him to play.
He then went into his career, saying it was a privilege to play the game all over the world. He said he owes his sincerest gratitude to each and every organization, "including, first and foremost, my teammates."
Bure thanked all of his coaches, the management he played for and the National Hockey League.
"Thank you for the opportunity to step on the ice each and every night and be part of your success," he said.
Finally, Bure talked about his fans.
"We play for you," he said. "I'll never forget the sights and sounds of the packed arena and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the support throughout my career."
Bure said he feels privileged to have lived this life and to have played this game.