Damn you Vancouver.
I know you’re embarrassed and ashamed over what transpired Wednesday night, and you should be.
As a sports fan, a little bit of me died.
It is easy to say that it was a small, isolated group of non-fans who were responsible for the riot. The fact is, tens of thousands of Vancouver Canuck fans joined in.
If you were more than happy to claim them as your own as part of the more than 100,000 who gathered to watch the game in downtown Vancouver, you can’t suddenly disown them when things get ugly.
Besides, judging by the number of named and numbered green and blue sweaters I saw jumping on cars, throwing punches and getting into fights with police, there were plenty involved who were big Canuck fans. You’re not dropping $300 to $400 on a jersey if you’re not.
Sure, not every Canuck fan in Vancouver was involved. In fact, the vast majority weren’t and plenty voiced their disgust over the proceedings, but it was still enough to make me ashamed to be a hockey fan.
If Canuck fans are wondering why so much of the nation was rooting against them this year, it’s because of crap like this.
It can be summed up in two words: No perspective.
This has been built up by a couple of factors.
The first one is an inferiority complex brought on by several heartbreaking losses over the years. But I have news for you, you are not especially cursed at all. Come talk to me after a century of disappointment and more than 65 years without even making it to a championship game.
Then there are few fan bases that are as fair-weather as a Vancouver fan base.
This results in diabolical mood swings.
When things are going good, no group of fans will tell you in greater detail how great the team is without having won bupkiss to the point of their own belligerence and incoherentness.
And when things go bad, well that was broadcast to the world on Wednesday night.
It also wasn’t the first time. There was no excuse for the city and the police being as under prepared as they were given the predicted size of the crowds.
A faction of Canuck fans showed in 1994 after they lost to the New York Rangers in the Cup final how they are likely to react to coming up short in another Game 7 Stanley Cup Final. In fact, it was the big joke before the series began among many people that if the Canucks failed, their would be another riot. Unfortunately, those wisecracks came to fruition.
Of course, Canuck fans are not alone in their idiocy.
Canada has a history of rioting over sports. Whether it was a couple of hundred knuckle draggers on Whyte Ave during the 2006 Cup final in Edmonton, or even in Montreal after the Canadiens won the cup in 1993. And there are many more instances. But this set a new standard.
I know we take a great deal of pride in hockey and our love for the sport is unquestioned, but how does it get to the point where lighting police cars on fire and stabbing your fellow fans — hell, even opposing fans — becomes a good idea?
It makes me wonder what really would have happened if Canada lost in the gold medal hockey game at the Olympics.
To riot over a hockey game is about the most pointless and juvenile thing you can do, especially in light of the world’s recent history where public demonstrations that have turned violent have been used to force regime change.
How people lose sight of how unimportant a hockey game really is just weeks after Slave Lake burns to the ground and while large portions of Manitoba and Quebec still sit under water is beyond me.
Sure, it feels great to win and it sucks when your team loses.
But go home, take a deep breath, hell, even have a beer. But get over it. There are far greater tragedies in life than losing a bloody hockey game.
Sadly, I know history has a habit of repeating itself, and it surely will again.