Vancouver Canucks fans set a car on fire and riot in the street after watching the Canucks lose to Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoff in downtown Vancouver, June 15, 2011.
Credits: CARMINE MARINELLI/QMI AGENCY
EDMONTON - And now, Vancouver, do you understand why the nation never endorsed or embraced the Canucks as Canada's Team?
Canadians didn't like the team, didn't like the organization and they especially didn't like the fans.
As it worked out, Vancouver's off-the-ice losers did a wonderful job taking the focus off Vancouver's on-the-ice losers. Only positive you can find.
Harsh? To the hockey club, certainly. To the obviously significant percentage of people who poison the the population, not a chance.
Regardless, from now until Grey Cup week in Vancouver and beyond to next year's playoffs, we're left to contemplate the mental make-up of a town and a team.
What happened in Vancouver Wednesday in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final cannot be written off as a team simply making it all the way to the last game of the final and having the misfortune of having some bad puck luck and running into a hot goalie and losing it. Not when you are outscored 21-4 in the final five games after surviving similar scares against Chicago and Nashville.
And what happened afterwards, in a riot which ranks in the worst in pro sports history, can't be brushed off as a few bad apples and not real hockey fans.
The Vancouver Canucks are a team with 41 years of failure which is going to have a hard time going forward knowing that their best players, a goalie who is signed through to 2022 and twin talents, back-to-back Art Ross Trophy winners and maybe Hart Trophy winners, can't be counted on in the clutch.
Maybe they fire the coach. Maybe they change the mix to add toughness and get rid of the soccer-style divers, finger-biters and whiners. Maybe they change the numbers so that someday there will be more Canadians on their roster than on every other team they play. Or maybe they do nothing. Maybe they go back and just hope it's not the Boston Bruins in the final the next time or that the attrition takes its toll on the Eastern Conference winner next time. (Odds for next year's Stanley Cup winner by Bodog came out Thursday and listed Vancouver at 5-to-1 favorites to win.)
Whatever they do, it won't change the way the nation views the fans, now.
Of course, it isn't all the fans.
That's what's so sad.
Vancouver wears it because the easiest prediction to make was that there would be a post-game riot, win or lose. And Vancouver wasn't prepared to stop it.
Like the Canucks, who told us again and again that they'd learned their lessons, Vancouver claimed they'd learned theirs from 1994. Neither learned a thing.
It wasn't just the idiots who rioted. Reaction from the exceedingly large lunatic fringe of fans from the other side of the mountains was unbelievable via Twitter, email, etc. throughout the playoffs. Rude. Obnoxious. Begging to be blocked. These are the same people who harbour conspiracy theories, who reportedly threw projectiles at Gary Bettman on the ice during the Stanley Cup presentation and one who shouted out while rioting that "this is all Bettman's fault!"
It ended with Vancouver owner Francesco Aquilini telling multiple members of the media in the Canucks dressing room to go fornicate elsewhere.
The Canucks organization, when reported to be attempting to sell the rights to their Stanley Cup parade telecast after Game 5, added greater numbers to the ABC community.
Not hockey fans? Usually that's the case.
But there were so many Canuck jerseys on the rioters in this one, they're hard to ignore.
And Vancouver is a repeat offender dating back to a Grey Cup riot in the 1960s, the 1994 riot, a riot early in the Olympics and one which seemed ready to break out several other nights, prevented mostly by cutting off liquor store sales downtown.
Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and a city which overall managed to make Canadians very proud in playing host to the Olympics.
I don't know how much money the citizens of Vancouver and British Columbia invested in the Olympics, but they received full value for it in 2010. And then they did this to themselves in 2011 to spoil the image around the world in one ugly night.
You'd love to say that all those volunteers who showed up to clean up the riot scene Thursday morning made up for it all, but they didn't.
It's Vancouver's shame.