A night embedded in Vancouver’s history
By Mo Hussain, Sports Reporter
Cars were vandalised, fires were started, stores were being looted, and the entire city went into madness.
The day was June 15, 2011. The Vancouver Canucks were set to play the Boston Bruins in game seven of the Stanley cup finals on their home ice and the city was buzzing.
“I was watching the game from the suite with family and friends. There was an energy in the arena I’d never felt or seen before. The tension in the air, the expectation. The Stanley Cup was in the building. Somebody was going to lift that trophy,” said Canucks owner Franceso Aquilini.
The Canucks came into the Stanley Cup Finals coming off the best regular season record in the league; they had defeated the reigning Stanley Cup champion and bitter rival Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, brought an entire city together, and were the favoured to win it all.
“If the Canucks are willing to pay the price, and nothing suggests they aren’t, Vancouver will win the Stanley Cup,” said sports media personality Jason Borough.
A funny feeling about the game
In the meantime, there were some people who felt that the crowd that gathered to watch the game in public was not going to be just any ordinary hockey crowd.
“And I was watching the crowd that was around me, they were a little bit different than the crowd that you’d normally see on a firework night,” said Stephanie Smith, who witnessed the crown at its epicentre. “I had heard some kids on the train talking about how either way, whether we lost or whether we won, they were going to start a riot in the city.”
Sgt. Ian Morrison who was then a constable with the Port Moody Police Department also had a funny feeling about what was about to take place. “Right from the time that the game was on I actually knew we were going to get called. I don’t know how, I just knew it.”
The Canucks started off the first period with a couple of good chances from stars Henrik and Daniel Sedin, however, it was the Bruins who opened the scoring with a goal from Patrice Bergeron—a goal that would end up being very crucial. “We got the first goal, and we knew that would be important coming here,” said Bruins forward Mark Recchi.
The Bruins would then take that momentum into the second period, with a goal from forward Brad Marchand and another goal from Bergeron.
The Canucks would go on to outshoot the Bruins, but the combination of the Bruins stellar defence and another empty net goal from Marchand in the third period would shut out the Canucks’ chances at winning their first Stanley cup as the Bruins won the game 4-0.
Once it looked like the Canucks did not have a chance at winning the cup, chaos ensued. Cars were vandalised, fires were started, stores were being looted, and the entire city went into madness.
“I was at home watching the game when my dispatcher called me about 8 o’clock to say he was starting to get calls. He had 10 calls for jobs already, so I came up to the office and took calls. The phone was ringing off the hook,” said Mike Miller who is the co-owner of Burnaby glass-repair shop Action Auto Glass.
Downtown Vancouver had gone into chaos, as total damages incurred were at least $3.7 million. Fifty-two assaults were also reported against civilians, police, and emergency personnel. At the end of the whole process, 912 charges were laid out on 300 alleged rioters.
Why did the riot happen?
Although the answer to this question may seem straightforward, some believe there is more to the story.
A piece written by the Daily Hive News, points out how the riot was not started by Vancouverites but was rather planned by a small group of young “kids” who grew in numbers as more people in the crowd began taking notice and giving them attention. The piece also points out how some people in the crowds were craving to be part of history one way or another.
All in all, the unfortunate actions of a few led to a very chaotic night and hopefully, the next time Vancouver makes it to the Stanley Cup, law enforcement will be better prepared to handle any situation.