Canuck Fans Embarrass Their City in Hockey Riots
The final chapter in a thrilling Stanley Cup Finals closed Wednesday night with the Boston Bruins winning in resounding fashion over the Vancouver Canucks. However, the focus after the game was unfortunately not Boston’s 4-0 road win or on Bruins goalie Tim Thomas’ MVP performance. Instead of discussing what had been a great series, news coverage quickly switched to a far uglier story—riots on the streets of Vancouver.
As soon as the buzzer signaled the end of the game, Vancouverites took to the streets in droves, causing chaos and destruction throughout the city. Vancouver hospitals treated eight people for stab wounds, and nearly 100 individuals were arrested. Numerous cars, including several police cruisers, were lit on fire. Fences meant to block off the areas designated for viewing the game were torn down and used as weapons to fend off police officers. Stores were looted as countless blue and green clad Canucks fans cheered the hooligans on, recording the moment with their smartphones. By all accounts, it was an awful scene, and a horrible night for the city of Vancouver. “It’s terrible,” Canucks captain Henrick Sedin told the Associated Press. “This city and province has a lot to be proud of, the team we have and the guys we have in here. It’s too bad.”
This is, of course, not the first time that there has been rioting following a major sporting event. There were famously riots in downtown Los Angeles after the Lakers won the NBA title in 2000. The same happened in both 1998 and 2001 after the Denver Broncos and Colorado Avalanche won their respective leagues. Boston fans are far from guilt-free themselves—there was extreme rioting after the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, resulting in the death of a female Emerson College student.
Still, there is one major difference between these incidents and the scene in Vancouver last night; the Vancouver riots were after their team lost. The scenes in LA, Denver, and Boston were certainly despicable, but they were cases of celebrations that got out of hand. However flimsy of an excuse that is, rioters in Vancouver didn’t even have that to blame. The mobs that formed on Sunday night were groups of poor sports and sore losers taking their drunken anger out on their city and their neighbors.
Was the destruction in this case worse than it was in cities such as Boston and LA? No, but the motivation for the riots say something about the city. The last time that there were major riots in a city following its team losing a sporting event was also in Vancouver, when the Canucks lost the 1994 Stanley Cup to the New York Rangers. The scene then was eerily similar to the one on Wednesday, with tens of thousands of individuals converging on downtown Vancouver and looting stores, burning cars, and clashing with police. Riots like these have simply not happened in other cities. The Bruins suffered an extremely humiliating exit from the playoffs last season, going up 3-0 in a best-of-seven series with the Philadelphia Flyers before losing four straight games (even after pulling ahead 3-0 in the seventh game). There were no riots then. The Red Sox were humbled by the New York Yankees for years, but there were never incidents like the ones that occurred in Vancouver. Rioting Vancouverites exhibited a severe lack of sportsmanship and maturity, and in doing so embarrassed their city.
Vancouver did an excellent job last winter in hosting the 2010 Olympics, and the games were entirely incident-free. In that light, it’s regrettable that the city’s reputation will undoubtedly by tarnished by these events. “It's going to be a black mark for a very, very long time,” Vancouver police Constable Jana McGuinness said in a statement. Unfortunately, he’s absolutely right.