It’s a shame that all Vancouver fans, as well as the city, have to be represented by such hooliganism. A lot of reports are saying there was a “organizational tone” to the rioting, meaning groups of people traveled to the city with intentions to stir up trouble. Police cars were torched, plenty of tear gas was deployed, downtown businesses were smashed and looted as countless people were injured and arrested. The scene looked like footage of a third-wold country revolting against its government. Fires blazed all around and the Vancouver skyline spewed smoke as if the city was just bombed. But really, there was no bombing or corrupt government. There was only massive disappointment over the Canucks’ most recent shortcoming. In reality, nothing changes in the lives of the fans after a loss, so it’s hard to understand why some of them would seek to cause so much long-term damage, not only to the city, but its reputation and pride. That core group of hooligans should be just as ashamed of themselves as real hockey fans around the world are of them.
In 2004 while The Calgary Flames battled the Tampa Bay Lighting for the Stanley Cup, the several block stretch of Calgary’s 17th Ave. was where the tens of thousands of fans would pour into after every game. It became infamously known as the red mile. The atmosphere was always upbeat and reminiscent of a Canada Day celebration, only it happened every second night. One thing the red mile certainly was not known for was violence. With crowds upwards of 55,000, there was no looting, burning cars or tear gas. Yeah, sure there were isolated incidents fueled by too many Sattledome beers, but nothing that could hold a flame to what happened in downtown Vancouver on the evening of June 16, 2011.
Calgary Flames fans and Calgarians in general should take solace in the fact that their city was able to collectively celebrate its hockey team with such a sense of camaraderie and peacefulness. So one or two pairs of breasts were whipped out here and there. Sure, maybe a few f-bombs were dropped in front of children. And OK, maybe a few fans had to visit the hospital. But for the most part, the ‘sea of red’ kept the good vibes rolling and the police officers had to deploy minimal to no force. I don’t even think anyone thought about climbing street signs. Damn. And hey what do you know, the Flames faced the exact same Game 7, on-the-road situation as Vancouver did. They lost the game to boot. But it was nothing like downtown Vancouver. The Flames faithful more or less just felt lucky to have made it so far and were happy to be along for the ride. Everything else was a bonus.
It really is inexplicable as to why they went so haywire in Vancouver. They did it in 94 when the Rangers won. Some have suggested that it’s just what Canucks fans do. I choose not to believe such insanity can be hardwired into the DNA of a fan. This is just what some human beings do. We’re a ridiculous species and some of us do ridiculous things. That is the best explanation there is out there at the moment. It’s all still hard to process