My readers are well aware that I am a hockey fan. In Canada, hockey is considered OUR sport of choice and the Stanley Cup is the pinnacle achievement for any hockey player to win. Again, no secret that my favorite team is the Montreal Canadiens and because I live in the city, I cheer on the Calgary Flames as well. There is great rivalry between the NHL teams in Canada and the U.S. There is also great rivalry between the nations as a result. When a Canadian team plays a U.S. team it becomes a Canada VS U.S.A. event even if the majority of players on a U.S. team may be Canadian born, and vice versa.
I will admit I had little interest in who won or lost the Stanley Cup this year with the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins getting to the finals. I am a fan of neither team, however I am a fan of hockey in general and I enjoy watching the playoffs regardless of who is playing. That said, being Canadian I favoured the Canucks to some degree…it’s the Canadian thing to do to cheer on the Canadian represented team. However it was not lost on me that the majority of Boston’s team had some hometown heroes on their roster.
It is not the final game however that will be remembered, it will be the riot that followed on the streets of Vancouver after the Canucks loss 4-0 to Boston in the seventh and final game. Vancouver already has a tarnished reputation for the rioting in 1994 after Vancouver lost to New York in that Stanley Cup final. One would think that city officials in Vancouver would learn after that event to not allow large group gatherings in the downtown core. However, insisting that Vancouver fans had learned to behave better, today they are likely rethinking the decision to allow tens of thousands of people to watch the game on wide screens set up in the downtown area.
Town officials say it was initially a “small” group of troublemakers that started the riot and fanned the flames of violence for the night. However as I watched with shock and horror the news footage of the vast numbers of people on those streets who stood and cheered on the destruction; took pictures of themselves by the burning cars and then aided and abetted those who entered the Bay department store to loot and continue to vandalize, there seemed to be more hooligans than law-abiding citizens on the streets of Vancouver last night.
Unfortunately what happened in Vancouver last night not only tarnishes the city’s image…again…but casts a dark shadow on our entire Nation. No one will remember the hard-fought victories of great hockey teams paired up throughout this year’s play offs. Sadly, shopkeepers and business owners will return to work this morning and spend their day or days cleaning up the mess, counting the cost to their livelihood as a result of last night’s rioting. Certainly they will not remember the Stanley Cup Playoffs with any kind of fondness.
It will be bantered about for months, perhaps years who’s to blame for this violence. There will be no definitive answer.
It is a sad day in our Nation.