As a hockey fan, and as a Canadian, I feel totally embarrassed and ashamed at the behaviour of individuals in the downtown core of Vancouver tonight, after the result of the Game 7 defeat at the hand of the worthy Bruins in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. My knee jerk reaction, without considerable time and reflection, is abject shame.
Even with precautions (liquor stores closed preemptively, police deployed), the depraved underbelly of the mob reared its opportunistic head and began to eviscerate the well-deserved reputation of Vancouver; a proud, beautiful and tolerant city.
This is not the first time such a reaction has tarnished the streets of an otherwise passionate hockey city (see 1994), and is certainly not the only example of the mob mentality wreaking havoc in an otherwise stable and calm city. Vancouver is by no means the only city to ever be subjected to such appalling activities. Through the looting, vandalism and arson, the question arises—what can be done?
It seems extreme to punish the whole to spite the few, but there are precedents. Football (soccer) teams at all levels around the world have suspended teams from competition for the behaviour of their fans. In extreme circumstances, only extreme measures must be considered.
At this current time, according to local news reports, there is at least one fatality and multiple severe injuries, arrests, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to downtown businesses and properties. Serious questions need to be asked about what measures can be taken to prevent such debacles in the future.
Again, I take no pleasure in suggesting that the majority be sanctioned to spite the few, but as a Canadiens fan who has been utterly ashamed by the reactions of my own fans in years past, there needs to be a mechanism available to authorities that can have a legitimate impact in terms of accountability. Police vehicles burning, businesses looted; pictures from Seymour and Granville look more like photos from Kandahar or Kabul. I weep for not only hockey, but for Vancouver and for Canada.
Suspending a team is certainly not something considered outside of catastrophic circumstances and is not by any means a measure taken lightly. However, neither should be a the reaction to the deplorable mobs that are running rampant in scenes that one might expect from a third world country wracked by civil war.
I am utterly saddened by what I see unfolding on TV in front of me. Seeing the civic pride dissipate and wash away from an otherwise proud and beautiful city, I can only think of what must come. What can be done? Painful though it may be, suspend the team.
Goodbye Vancouver…innocence lost.