Panthers' Pavel Bure Sidelined

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

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

Bure missed five games with 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 incensed that he could not play.

"I'm not just disappointed, I'm really angry," he said, following the morning's pre-game 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 hasn't 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 Jan. 17.

Bure's groin strain left him out of the lineup when the Panthers played host to the Canucks last month.

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 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."

To fill his spot, the Panthers recalled center Craig Ferguson from the Louisville Panthers of the American Hockey League.

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed