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Flames All-Time Countdown Chapter CXII: 50-49

On the 112th edition of the countdown, we look at Finnish defender Pekka Pautakallio and wine expert Valeri Bure.

50. Pekka Rautakallio

Rautakallio was a 5’11", 180 lb. defenseman from Pori, Finland. Born on July 25th, 1953, the left-hander appeared in 133 contests with Assat Pori through the first half of the 1970s, scoring 48 goals with 38 assists in Finland’s second highest league.

Rautakallio made his North American debut with the Phoenix Roadrunners, spending 1975-76 and 1976-77 with the WHA outfit (151 games, 15 goals, 70 assists) before rejoining Assat for two more seasons (72 games, 41 goals, 59 assists). He joined the still-Atlanta Flames during the 1979 offseason.

Rautakallio led the Flames with a plus-22 plus/minus rating in his first season of NHL hockey in 1979-80, scoring five times on 104 shots. He assisted on a team-seventh 25, and earned a mere 18 penalty minutes in the process. His 6.5 point shares were impressive, ranking him sixth on the 35-32-12 club, but would rank as the least impressive of his three NHL seasons. He pitched in with an assist in four postseason matchups, as the Flames dropped three of four to the New York Rangers.

The Flames moved lock, stock, and barrel to Calgary during the summer of 1980. Rautakallio played in 76 contests, tallying 11 goals on 129 shots with a team-fourth 45 assists (this effort ranked him second on the blue line, behind Paul Reinhart). He earned a minus-1 rating on the 1980-81 season, with 64 penalty minutes. 19 of his assists came with the man-advantage, and he closed the season with a team-fourth 7.0 point shares. Calgary posted a solid 39-27-14 record to finish third in the Patrick Division, and finally won a playoff series, eliminating the Chicago Blackhawks in three straight and the Philadelphia Flyers in seven before dropping in six to the Minnesota North Stars. Rautakallio appeared in every match, scoring twice with four assists.

Rautakallio saved his best NHL season for last in 1981-82, leading Calgary with 7.6 point shares and with 80 games played. He earned career highs in all offensive categories, including goals (17), shots (176), assists (a team second best 51), points (68), and game winners (three). He earned a minus-8 rating and 40 penalty minutes. The Flames somehow earned a postseason berth despite a weak 29-34-17 record, but were quickly executed by the Vancouver Canucks in three straight. Pekka did not score.

Not interested in continuing his NHL travails, Rautakallio went back to Finland during the 1982 offseason, signing with HIFK Helsinki. He ended up playing five full seasons for the club in the top Finnish league, scoring a total of 168 points in 174 games. He was later the head coach for Riga Dynamo in the KHL, amassing a 34-35-9 record over two seasons.
The Pekka Rautakallio trophy is an ice hockey award given by the Finnish Liiga to the best defenceman of the season.

All-Time Statline: 235 games, 33 goals, 121 assists, plus-13 rating, 122 penalty minutes, 20.68 point shares.

49. Valeri Bure

Bure was a right winger from Moscow, Russia born on June 13th, 1974. A 5’11", 179 lb. right hander, he was a second round selection of the Montreal Canadiens in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft, 33rd overall.

Before joining the Habs organization, Bure played three seasons in the WHL with the Spokane Chiefs (178 games, 135 goals, 163 assists). He then split the 1994-95 campaign between Montreal (24 games, three goals, one assist) and their AHL affiliate in Fredericton (also the Canadiens, 45 games, 23 goals, 25 assists). He followed that with three seasons in Montreal (191 games, 43 goals, 63 assists). On February 1st, 1998, the Canadiens traded Bure with a draft pick (Shaun Sutter) to the Flames for Jonas Hoglund and Zarley Zalapski.

Over 16 games with Calgary to close out the 1997-98 season, Bure scored five times on 45 shots, along with four assists, an even rating, and just one minor penalty. In just his third game with the Flames, on February 7th, he scored his first career hat trick as Calgary set down the Edmonton Oilers, 4-2.

1998-99 would see Bure rank fourth on the Flames with 26 goals (on a team leading 260 shots), 27 assists, and 53 points. He earned an even rating and 22 penalty minutes while averaging 16:11 over his 80 appearances. He scored twice on March 13th, including the overtime game winner in a 5-4 decision over the Washington Capitals. Eight days later, he provided all of Calgary’s offense in a 2-1 win against the New York Islanders. The Flames posted a 30-40-12 record, missing the playoffs.

In 1999-00, Bure led Calgary with 75 points, scoring on 35 of his 308 shots-on-goal with 40 assists. He played in his only all-star game, earned a minus-7 rating and 50 penalty minutes, and averaged a forward-corps leading 20:58 per game. He was the only Flame to appear in every contest. He finished with 18 multi-point games, including six game winning markers. On October 28th, he earned a point on every Calgary goal (one goal, three assists) of a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. On March 4th, he had two goals and two assists in an 8-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Despite Bure’s heroics, the Flames bumbled their way to a 31-36-10-5 performance, again missing the postseason.

Bure would play one more season with Calgary, appearing in 78 contests in 2000-01. He ranked third on the club with 55 points, scoring 27 times on a team leading 276 shots along with 28 helpers. He placed last on the team with a minus-21 rating, also spending 26 minutes in the penalty box while playing 19:01 per game. He earned multiple points a dozen times, and scored the game winner twice. On New Years Eve, he scored twice and tabbed two assists in a 5-4 overtime win against the Montreal Canadiens. Calgary finished at 27-36-15-4.

The Flames traded Bure to Florida during the 2001 offseason along with Jason Wiemer for Rob Niedermayer and a second round pick (Andrei Medvedev). He played parts of three seasons with the Panthers (132 games, 33 goals, 56 assists, minus-14 rating, 42 penalty minutes), later appearing for a spell with the St. Louis Blues (five games, two assists), and the Dallas Stars (13 games, two goals, five assists). He is married to television personality Candace Cameron (Full House), and operates a winery in California.

All-Time Statline: 256 games, 93 goals, 99 assists, minus-28 rating, 100 penalty minutes, 20.78 point shares.