Bure breaks finger, delaying return to Vancouver

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The Russian ice hockey star Pavel Bure will be sidelined at least two weeks because of a broken finger, delaying his homecoming to Vancouver.

The Russian ice hockey star Pavel Bure will be sidelined at least two weeks because of a broken finger, delaying his homecoming to Vancouver.

The Florida Panthers player injured his left little finger on Wednesday night and received the diagnosis on Thursday night. He was to have played against his former team for the first time on Friday night. The teams do not meet again in the regular season.

Bure missed five games because of a groin strain earlier this season. The latest injury came during the second period of a 2-2 tie at Edmonton.

"The main concern of the doctors is the threat of infection," Panthers general manager Bryan Murray said.

Bure, tied for the Panthers lead with six goals, was upset that he could not play.

"I'm not just disappointed, I'm really angry," he said, following the team's morning skate. "It was going to be a really big night for me here in Vancouver. The doctor's just wouldn't allow me to play. I would do anything to play. I was preparing to play, even if it hurt a lot."

Bure said he went so far as to plead with the doctors.

"I was trying, but they said, 'No,"' he said. "If it would be my choice, I would play."

Bure has not made a public appearance in Vancouver since the end of the 1998 season. That summer, Bure refused to play for the Canucks and was traded to Florida in a seven-player deal on 17 January.

Bure's groin strain left him out of the lineup when the Panthers faced the Canucks last month in Florida.

Friday's game had created a stir in Vancouver all week. The Canucks attempted to capitalize on Bure's return with an advertising campaign featuring the slogan: "Love him. Hate him. Just don't miss him."

Radio announcers spent the last few days urging fans to boo Bure, who spent his first seven NHL season with the Canucks.

During a news conference on Thursday, Bure said he was excited about facing his former team.

"I think I'm more excited because I know it's going to be something," Bure said. "It's going to be booing or cheering, so either way, it's going to be exciting."

He also defended his decision to demand the trade.

"I think I did the right thing. I didn't betray anybody. I don't feel guilty at all."

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