Pavel Bure was fortunate enough to play in the 1994 Stanley Cup Final as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, who lost to the New York Rangers in seven games.
That ended up being the only final appearance for the "Russian Rocket" in his 13-year NHL career, and he still recognizes the magnitude of that series 22 years later.
"Stanley Cup Final is a different, much bigger stage than the rest of the playoffs," Bure told NHL.com/ru. "The whole hockey world is watching you. I noticed the importance of it the very first moment after the Canucks arrived in New York. Our bus was guarded by at least a dozen policemen on motorbikes. It made us realize how far we have gotten."
Vancouver entered the 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs as the Western Conference's No. 7 seed, and upset the No. 2 seed Calgary Flames in the first round, No. 4 Dallas Stars in the second round and No. 3 Toronto Maple Leafs in the Western Conference Final. The Canucks won Game 1 (3-2 in overtime) against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden before losing the next three games to go down 3-1 in the series. They rallied to win Games 5 and 6, but lost 3-2 in Game 7 in New York.
Bure, who was 23 at the time, led the Canucks in scoring in the final with eight points (three goals, five assists); he had 31 points (16 goals, 15 assists) in 24 postseason games. On a team that also featured the steady presence of captain Trevor Linden and goalie Kirk McLean, the mindset in the locker room remained the same throughout the playoffs.
"We had no special preparations for the Stanley Cup Final," Bure said. "[Former Canucks coach] Pat Quinn was a great psychologist and knew when to spur the team and when to calm guys down. Even at the biggest stage you still have to have short-term memory and forget about each game right after the final whistle, no matter if you won or lost. We understood, that until the series is over, you have to continue playing each game like it's the last one. The same goes for Stanley Cup Final."
Bure, who won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1992, led the NHL in goals three times (1993-94, 60; 1999-00, 58; 2000-01, 59) and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012, is satisfied with how his career panned out despite never winning a championship.
"I have no regrets regarding my career even though after the loss to the Rangers I never got a chance to play for the Stanley Cup [again]," Bure said. "In 1994 Stanley Cup Final I gave it all and came up short. It's hockey, things like that happen. But I did my job well and have nothing to be ashamed about."