As the NHL season came to an end, Vancouver Canucks fever has swept the province when they won the President's trophy. Downtown Vancouver became a hub for fans all over to come together and celebrate what was anticipated as the end of a 40 year drought and getting another chance at Lord Stanley. Generations of hockey fans throughout the past few months shared stories from both the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals (against the NY Rangers) and even 1982 (against the NY Islanders).
With so much excitement and love for the sport, what the heck happened?
Remember pictures like this (to the right) leading up to the June 15th Game 7 Stanley Cup Final game? Fans flooding Granville street shouting, "WE WANT THE CUP" and "GO CANUCKS GO". However, the games they did not win, the streets were quieter and they were safe.
To foreigners Vancouverites have a world wide reputation of being friendly and kind. Just ask almost any Australian who has come to work in Vancouver and/or Whistler. Or go to any country where our population has relatives and most of them will tell you the same thing, "Great city, great times". I have traveled a lot, and every time on my travels an individual has asked where I am from; when I say Vancouver, their face lights up. Most recently, I traveled to Thailand for the month of February and on numerous occasions I have been asked and I got the same warm reception.
VANCOUVER IS AWESOME!
I truly believe the action was too much for most to handle, but I am confident that the results from Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final were irrelevant towards the reasons and the motivation of the riot starting on June 15th.
I was happy to see families coming into town by sky train and kids jumping up and down for joy for the game to start; however, on my walk around downtown I found there were also packs of minors drinking in public and even drunk (it was only 2 pm). When I was in 7 Eleven there were some individuals who were saying incredulous things like, "Can't wait to get f***ed up" and "$h!ts going down tonight". Both my brother and I knew it was a safe bet that a riot was imminent.
Every bar had a line up around the corner, and I was content with watching the game from home (I live a block away from Granville Street). Usually from home I can hear all the action from Granville Street and the CBC building; however, it was mostly silent from the second period on. Throughout the game I was checking Facebook and Twitter, and I noticed a lot of my friends, who were in downtown, with their children decided to leave the fan zone early. As the game came to an end, I could see smoke through the buildings.
As we approached Seymour and Georgia, we could see the crowd running up and down avoiding the tear gas. To our right was this genius in the picture trying to knock over the phone booth. There was a lot of confusion and fist fights started everywhere. We decided to get to higher grounds and proceeded to a parking lot on Richards and Georgia.
As the riot police approached Richards and Georgia, most of the people at the parking lot knew it was not safe to be there anymore. My friends and I left and headed home. On the walk back, garbage cans exploded and people were smashing windows everywhere. My girlfriend was hysterical as she watched people smashing the windows at the IGA (Robson & Richards). Anger grew.
This wasn't about a hockey game, in fact the Stanley Cup Finals seemed like it was a lifetime ago. Everyone was pointing fingers at one another, and worse people who were watching the destruction of public property was painted with the same brush as the vandals and rioters. The reality was there were people who were stuck in the downtown area with no options available to get out. The evening news showed the chaos and the social media sites exploded. The whole experience made me dizzy, and I was angry. For whatever reason the following infamous scene from "Network" came to mind:
I am so proud of everyone joining together to clean up the city and help identify these douche bags. It was through this unfortunate event, we as a community stood strong together. As well, it has brought us closer together. Unfortunately, we did get a lot of attention from various countries broadcasting the events of the riot; however, I do believe it won't be long before this is forgotten on the global stage.
Tomorrow is another day; however, we will have to learn from our mistakes to avoid history repeating again. What was the point of this destruction? The Georgia Straight wrote a great article the other day addressing this point (Vancouver hockey riot is a symptom of a larger problem):
So, why are there so many hungry souls out there, ready and willing to bring chaos down on the so-called most livable city on the planet? In reality, matters have only gotten much worse politically and economically since 1994, and Generation Y has been delivered into a beyond-callous world facing a perfect storm of crises. They know it. What does the future look like for the average 20 year old? It's a depressing, empty place where they can't get decent-paying (let alone secure) jobs or ever have a hope of owning property. Can you imagine how much more fearful and angry they would be if they fully comprehended the seriousness of peak oil?
And yet despite the terminal condition of a socio-economic superstructure hurtling towards the edge of a cliff while wondering if it even has enough gas to get there, the market rolls on, plundering the public coffers and starving the arts and education, producing a society that is spiritually malnourished but not sensitive enough to ask why. Meanwhile, we have dissonant messages relentlessly beamed into our heads: wealth is good, the poor have nobody but themselves to blame, personal devices make you happy, war is peace, “Save money, live better”, Don Cherry deserves your attention and respect, and have some pride in your Canucks. Because what the fuck else have you got going for you? To read the full article CLICK HERE
My heart goes out to the devoted Vancouver Canucks fans. Vancouver has a great team and it is only a matter of time when they will win the Stanley Cup. Perhaps Vancouver will be able to match the pattern of the Montreal Canadiens and the Calgary Flames. Both cities hosted the Olympics, then went on to win the President's trophy the following season, and they both won the Stanley Cup after hosting the Olympics. Could 2012 be the year for the Vancouver Canucks?
For those sports fans that need a good read check out this brilliant article called Screw Boston, ignoring the title, it is a totally unbiased take on Game 7 from a Canadian correspondent.
There are so many things one could comment with the events of the past few days; however, there isn't enough time to jot them down. We as a community rolled with the punches and our city's bruises will heal in time. We just have to keep pushing forward. Only because I watched this movie last night, I thought I would attach a great speech Rocky Balboa gives to his son about life:
GO CANUCKS GO