Two days after the streets of Vancouver were torn apart by fans enraged with the Canucksâ€™ loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the entire NHL community and sports fans everywhere are trying to comprehend what on earth happened last Wednesday night.
Minutes after the Bruins scored their fourth and final goal – going on to win their first Stanley Cup Championship in 39 years – fires were set to the city of Vancouver as enraged Canucks fans acted as if Â the world was coming to an end.
I say â€˜world coming to an endâ€™ because no normal sports fan breaks out into total riot mode after their team is stripped of a championship.
That night I was watching a live Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) feed of the game.
After the broadcasters went silent and allowed the Bruinsâ€™ players to lift the cup and skate around the ice, they quickly cut out to an image of anarchy on the streets as fans had raced out of the arena, and many belligerent Canucksâ€™ supporters began to burn buildings, break glass windows and destroy property in British Columbia.
Could this really be happening? I guess the more appropriate question I should have asked was, â€œCould this really be happening again?â€
After watching this riot in disbelief, I thought back to the scenes I recall as the madness that ensued on Madison Avenue.
Yes, Iâ€™m talking about the riots in my hometown of Chicago after the Bulls won their second and third NBA titles in 1992 and 1993.
Though I was too young to remember seeing these events play out live, the images of flipped over cars, people looting stores and costing the city roughly $10 million in damages (â€˜92), they are engrained in my mind as a picture of nutty sports fans and what happens when alcohol gets involved with heavy passion.
What puzzles me is that the Bulls won these championships in the early 90s, not lost them. The Canucks havenâ€™t had such similar luck, but acted the same way they did Wednesday night after the identical scenario played out 17 years before.
In Game 7 of the NHL Finals back in 1994, the Canucks fell to the New York Rangers and broke out into riots. What makes more logical sense in this case is that fans caused havoc in New York City, disrespecting the team and city that crushed their championship dreams.
Why would they destroy their place of residence almost two decades later when the same situation arose?
This isnâ€™t the first time a riot has broken out after a sporting event and most likely wonâ€™t be the last. Itâ€™s difficult for any sports fan to watch as belligerent supporters of a team ruin the experience for everyone by lashing out in such extreme ways, tarnishing an entire event.
The Boston Bruins – being remembered as a team that won their first Stanley Cup Championship in nearly 40 years – is the second thing that will come to the minds of many sports fans, as the riots that broke out destroyed one of the greatest traditions in sports.
It seems that itâ€™s an understatement to say Canadians take â€œtheirâ€ sport very seriously.
In Montreal, riots broke out inside stadiums and in the streets after the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup Championship in both 1986 and 1993. Such instances like this disgust outsiders who donâ€™t understand the passion fans have for their favorite sport(s) and scoff in disgust of their city being burned down by a bunch of drunken fans.
Thereâ€™s no reason to condone the actions of these fans and rightfully so. Those who were involved in the burning of buildings and destroying of vehicles (to say the least) on Wednesday should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. No matter the outcome of a game, no fans have any excuse to act like that.
However, it makes you think that regardless of a team winning or losing, riots are going to happen either way.
Whether it is the excitement or the anger being expressed, itâ€™s redundant to say that actions like this should be considered deplorable acts of crime.
No one will really understand why it happens and the fact of the matter is that as it does, steps need to be put in place ahead of time to prevent the hostility from occurring before lives are claimed from ridiculous, out-of-control violence.