From the Ice to the Streets

VANCOUVER, British Columbia—“It’s just a disgrace,” said my uncle, a Canucks season ticket holder. I could tell the conversation was paining him—maybe even more than my recent move to Boston, home of the Bruins.

“Hockey is a tough game, and the Bruins won fair and square,” he continued. “Now, we fans don’t only look like sore losers, but the enduring image of Vancouver in 2011 will be that of rioting. It’s embarrassing for the city, and it’s embarrassing for us. We look like savages.”

It’s been more than a month since the Boston Bruins defeated the Vancouver Canucks to win the Stanley Cup, but the series is still making headlines in Canada—or rather, its aftermath is. Overshadowing the Bruins’ first Cup win since 1972 was a post-game riot in the streets of Vancouver that resulted in millions of dollars in damages and shocking images of rioters setting police cars on fire, throwing mannequins into store windows, and wrestling with police.

Though the majority of Canadians are hockey-crazed, they aren’t crazy. The police have blamed the riots on anarchists who were looking for the opportunity to create trouble. Nevertheless, civilians abetted the frenzy, plundering local businesses.

My uncle’s disappointment in his fellow citizens was echoed in all my conversations with friends and relatives in the Pacific Northwest and, judging from the response of the city government, seems to be consistent across British Columbia.

City authorities and news stations posted images and video from the riots, asking viewers to call in if they recognized any of the perpetrators. Vancouverites came out in troves to identify an arsonist here and a thief there, and they continue to do so many weeks later.

I came to Vancouver for a wedding, an event that celebrates unity and love. It struck me, when I arrived, that this summer's most prevailing image of this city is the exact opposite of that for which I had come—it’s of school-teachers stealing TVs from the Hudson Bay and of college students striking a match at the end of a Molotov cocktail.

The anarchists may have succeeded in taking advantage of frustrated and, in many cases, drunk fans in order to cause chaos in a city known for its tranquility. But in the aftermath, people like my uncle and others I spoke to, in addition to the authorities and those who called in to identify anarchists, salvaged Vancouver’s image. As a Yank, it’s not our northern neighbors ferocity on the street that I’m worried about—it’s their ferocity on the ice.

Alexander Koenig '14, a sports writer, lives in Currier House.

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