Last night I was one of the 100,000+ that crammed into a very small space to watch the final game of the Stanley Cup Finals. It took some work, getting VERY close to people I'll never see again and a lot of pushing and shoving but we finally positioned ourselves in a way to see the (not so) giant screen.
I've been to many Symphony of Fires (now it's called the Celebration of Light) and have fought the crowds to get from point A to B, but it doesn't even come close to last night's experience. It was smelly, hot, crammed, and really really smelly.
On our way downtown we had already talked about getting out of there as fast as we could if it looked like it was going to turn ugly. We all remembered what happened in 1994 when the Canucks lost to the Rangers in Game 7 and none of us wanted to be caught in that.
Sadly, Boston scored their 3rd goal in the second period (short handed to boot). The moment the ref signaled goal we were out of there, along with quite a few other fans who could feel the crowd mentality turn.
We were just about home when Boston lift Lord Stanley's Cup and by the time we got home we had heard there was at least 1 car tipped and on fire. I then spent the next 90 minutes glued to the news just flabbergasted at the utter stupidity of people. (I'm going to digress for a moment and go back to the car fire - I was standing below the sign at the post office and the car was burning in the middle of the road in front of the post office. How did a car get in there???? There were no cars there when I was watching the game, so how did it get in to the fenced area?)
I watched the footage of the riot squad shooting tear gas, I watched that idiot in the blue shirt continue to yell at the police for at least 30 minutes, I watched as people picked up the fences and threw them at the police, I watched them climb up the steps of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and throw potted plants (I feel so badly for the people who went to see Wicked last night only to be trapped in the building because it wasn't safe for them to leave), and I watched the crowd form around those police cars, tip them over, jump on them and eventually light them on fire. I watched our beautiful city be turned into a war zone by some incredibly stupid people and tarnish our name, as a city and hockey town, yet again.
Vancouver has been labeled a "no fun zone" for many years and after last night you can't blame them. Our city hosted the Olympics in 2010 and finally became a fun city again. It took a lot of work to be a fun city again and it all gets thrown out the window because of a hockey game?!?!? Yes, I am a Canucks fan (you can read about My Canucks Story) and I am devastated they lost the cup but at no point did I think to myself "hey, I'm so upset I'm going to light this trash can on fire".
I have already read a lot of opinions as to what the Vancouver Police could have done differently. I think they will look at last night's response and, hopefully, see more good than bad. I think they came into it with a plan and didn't stray from it, maybe it was the wrong thing to do but I think they had areas of concern they wanted to control first. However, I must say I am proud of them for their calm demeanor. It would have been so easy to just start arresting people but they held to the plan. They issued warnings and then fired tear gas. They warned people if they stayed in the downtown core they would be arrested and if they left they'd be left alone. Our police aren't always painted in a good light but I think, for the most part, they did a fantastic job last night.
I am at a loss on how to fully express how disgusted I am with those so called "fans" who decided to destroy our city last night. I hope those involved in last night's stupidity wake up this morning utterly ashamed of themselves and join the many wonderful citizens of this great city of ours to clean up the downtown core. Next time you hear someone say Vancouver is a "no fun city" you remember what you did to make it this way.
But, I would like to congratulate the Boston Bruins (and the super human Tim Thomas) for winning the Stanley Cup. You played a heck of a series.
To my Canucks, thank you for an amazing season and playoff run.