When Game Seven ended and the Bruins began to celebrate on the ice at the Rogers Center, you can imagine that the city government of Vancouver had to expect some violence to take place after the loss. But they could not have imagined the scale of what took place Wednesday night after the game. You've probably seen the videos online or on the news, so I won't recap them here, but I will say this: if this had happened before Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics, there would have been serious questions about the city's ability to host the massive event.
Would they have rioted if Canada had lost the gold medal game? It would be easy to say no, because one would suspect that the better angels of the Canadian fans' nature would have kept them from such hooliganism. But frankly, it might have happened because the level of celebrations were quite high after Sidney Crosby scored the overtime winner.
Let me state this before I go any further: I don't blame all of Vancouver for what happened Wednesday night. In fact, quite a few Vancouverites came out the next day to help clean up after the riot. Who do I blame? The hooligans, of course. Caught up in the heat of the moment and fueled by booze (and possibly something more than that), they went on a rampage.
But the lion's share of the blame has to go to the local law enforcement, and heads should roll over this. The RCMP should launch a thorough investigation into why this riot happened, and why such an event wasn't anticipated after what took place in 1994 when the Canucks lost Game 7 to the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden. It would be as if the LAPD didn't expect riots had OJ Simpson been felt guilty of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. You can be sure that the national media would be all over such a lack of preparedness.
In time, the residue of this riot will fade. It won't stain the city's reputation long term, but what about the next time the Canucks are in the Stanley Cup Finals? It could happen again next year, as the team is definitely talented enough to make another run again in 2012. What if they host another Game 7 next year and lose? Will the same thing happen again?
I would like to say no, but so many in the aftermath of the 1994 riots said that they would make sure it would never happen again. Seventeen years later, though, and the same thing took place. I'm sure that if the Canucks keep the core of this team around, they'll be there again much sooner than seventeen years. Win or lose, the local government of Vancouver has to be ready for anything next time, because Canadians have a passionate love of hockey, and some will cross the line again. When it happens, the police have to be ready to nip it in the bud, as a certain Mayberry deputy used to say.