Thursday, June 16, 2011
VANCOUVER: SHAME AND EMBARASSMENT
Game 7's are so supposed to be special. They are supposed to be treasured as a winner take all, one shot sort of deal in which proud athletes leave it all on the ice or field and fans simultaneously rejoice or agonize.
Last nights game between Vancouver and Boston had all of those elements in place before the puck dropped. Vancouver appeared to be a city on the precipice of celebration, should their hometown heroes prevail. No need to go into the details of the game. Boston dominated, claimed the Stanley Cup by a surprisingly one-sided 4-0 scoreline. Sadly the end of the hockey season was marred by an embarrassing display of rioting and looting eerily reminiscent of the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict and the LA Riots.
There are many Vancouver fans who hoped to celebrate, but when the inevitable became the reality quietly licked their wounds politely lauded the victorious Bruins and returned home. For once I felt sympathy for Commissioner Gary Bettman. He was roundly and loudly booed and also had projectiles thrown at him, as if the diminutive head of the NHL was somehow responsible for the outcome.
Sadly the city has become painted with out of control behaviour, violent, in nature and quite frankly downright scary. There can be claims that this was a small lunatic fringe representing the masses, and that these were not hockey fans. Video evidence will show a wide-spread violence with plenty of hockey paraphernalia on display. Images of out of control young people setting fires, looting stores, vandalizing cars will become embedded in the national conscience. Ill-timed and jokes in poor taste littered the Internet last night. This was no time for "Tim Thomas stopped everything else, lets send him out to stop the riots" jokes. It was serious business.
There is no defense, there is no justification and in these cases, pictures and video are worth much more than a thousand words. It will take one massive PR campaign to heal this wound for Vancouver.