Vancouver: Partying like its 1994.
Apparently the Tripoli Canucks dropped an important game last night. After the Boston Bruins triumphed in a laugher of a game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals, Vancouver fans took to the streets to vent their frustration and rectify what many believed to be a lack of smouldering automobile wreckage throughout the city. Police responded in kind, dispersing tear gas from horseback and somewhere in Cairo people watching asked, “Really?”
As a Habs fan, riots aren’t really that new to me – Bad loss? Riot. Big win? Riot. Off day? Riot. Best player gets suspended? Gunfire. – but in recent years the police force in Montreal has wised up, sectioning off streets around the Bell Centre and increasing their visible presence after games to curb, let’s call it “over-exuberant behaviour” on the part of Habs fans. To date, the police have been relatively successful in localizing riots, if not stamping them out completely. Hence I’m stunned by the reaction of their city and police force of Vancouver.
It was game 7 of the Stanley Cup, they’ve been here before. They saw what happened in ’94 when the Canucks lost. How could they be so ill prepared? Win or lose everyone on the face of the earth with a general knowledge of hockey fans was expecting something to happen, and when you get 10s of thousands of angry, intoxicated people crammed into a tight space you have to know something is going to happen. The level of their response was acceptable. That the situation was allowed to escalate to the point it did was not.
We’re going to hear a lot about whose fault this whole thing was in both the general and sports media and what can be done to prevent things like this in the future. Consider this: for the past two months the talking heads that make up the hockey punditry (I’m looking at you Don Cherry) have been referring to the playoffs as “two months of all out war”. When you equate a child’s game, which all sports are, to something as severe as war – particularly when there many going on – how can you expect any other reaction than violence?
Where this the aftermath of a soccer match FIFA would step in and bar fans for a few matches – maybe something Gary Bettmann and the NHL should consider.