Sep 5, 2011, 11:01 PM EST
The riots that erupted in Vancouver after the Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals to the Boston Bruins were one of the most embarrassing things to happen in recent memory. After seeing all the crime and vandalism break out in one of North America’s most beautiful cities all thanks to losing a championship game made everyone feel disgusted that such a thing could happen.
While the Vancouver Police Department report said that their police force was overrun by the sheer number of people, intoxicated and otherwise, another Vancouver government group feels that there’s another group to blame for what happened.
The Vancouver city council filed their report on what happened and pointed the finger squarely not at their own citizens for acting like hooligans but at the NHL for allowing it to happen.
Rod Mickelburgh of The Globe And Mail has the baffling story out of a city that finds a new way to make an ugly situation look worse.
“In spite of four Stanley Cup riots in the last five years, [the NHL] has no approach, no policy and no apparent strategy to work with host franchises and municipalities on this issue,” says the lengthy internal report to be debated at a special council meeting on Tuesday.
“[This] clearly … threatens the value and perception of their brand.”
The city’s criticism of the NHL follows similar barbs tossed at the league by the provincially appointment independent review of the riot, headed by co-chairs Douglas Keefe and John Furlong.
In their report released last week, they said it was “unfortunate and regrettable” that the NHL has no specific programs to help teams “with the kind of challenge [Vancouver] faced that night.”
Concluding that the sport of professional hockey, itself, cannot be separated from the riot, they urged the NHL to work with teams and communities to promote “peaceful, happy hockey celebrations.”
Pardon us but… What?
Let’s get this straight, the NHL is supposed to help the city with how to protect themselves and deal with a massive crowd that at another time in their history showed that they weren’t able to handle losing in the Stanley Cup finals well at all? Shenanigans have been declared.
This the City of Vancouver’s way of passing the buck and shuffling the blame for the insane and foolish violence that broke out to help make themselves look good and the NHL like the big, bad corporate entity that’s forcing hockey and excitement upon them. The NHL is in the business of playing and hosting hockey events. Protecting the people and maintaining civil peace is the sort of job we’re pretty sure the police department would be insulted at being told what to do by the league.
As it is, the Canucks are already going to start working with the city closer to help better manage these events in the future, but the city coming out and ripping the NHL for this comes off as petty and gutless.
Given that the city erupted in violence in 1994 when the Canucks lost to the Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals, this was something the current police department and those involved had to at least be prepared on how to handle. After all, they were going to have a civil disturbance (albeit a joyous one) if the Canucks had won the Stanley Cup this year. With the team being humbled at home in Game 7 after a raucous and mutually agitating Cup finals series, the possibility that there’d be troublemakers looking to use losing as an excuse to raise hell had to be in the back of their minds and there had to be a contingency plan in case things got out of hand.
In other words, the city and the police force not being properly prepared isn’t the NHL’s problem. The NHL doesn’t control the fans and they certainly don’t run the City of Vancouver or any other cities around North America where hockey is played. If the NHL gets in the business of hiring their own private security firms to handle event security then that’s fine, put it on them. For this, however, Vancouver had to know what they were getting into and they had to know based on their own recent history what might happen.
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