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Rioters shame Vancouver, obscure Boston's glory

by | CBSSports.com

VANCOUVER -- The tear gas still stung well after the police used it to disperse the last of the rioters. It was midnight, about four hours after hooligans began their rampage in the area around Rogers Arena.

The masses that roamed the streets had been either driven away or arrested by this point. What was left wasn't pretty. Streets were littered with broken glass -- even some broken mannequins -- and trash was everywhere.

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As a reporter sent here by CBSSports.com to cover a hockey game, the focus should have remained on the Boston Bruins, who played a flawless road game en route to their first Stanley Cup title since 1972. Instead, we were drawn to images of burning cars and looting.

"The pride our fans showed in our team throughout the regular season and playoffs was incredible and we are very grateful for that support," the Canucks said in a statement on Thursday. "The destructive actions and needless violence demonstrated by a minority of people last night in Vancouver is highly disappointing to us all."

This would have happened had Roberto Luongo not been a sieve and Daniel and Henrik Sedin came out of hiding to give the Canucks their first Cup title. There was an element looking for a reason and a 4-0 loss was as good a motivation as any.

And these were not, in large part, Canucks fans pissed the Bruins had done them in. Many in the same group that initiated a smaller pre-Olympic riot last year -- with gas masks and fuel in hand -- caused much of the trouble, police officials told the CBC on Thursday.

Police cars are set on fire, windows smashed and much more destruction on the streets of Vancouver. (AP)  
Police cars are set on fire, windows smashed and much more destruction on the streets of Vancouver. (AP)  
Sure, many of those rioters wore Vancouver Canucks jerseys and shirts. You can debate all you want if they were "true" Canucks fans and I don't have the breakdown on which player's jersey was the most popular. And the fact this happened before doesn't help things. A riot broke out after a previous Game 7 loss in the Finals to the New York Rangers in 1994.

But let's not heap all Canucks fans into this mess. I saw plenty in the hours afterward who looked on in tears at the destruction that was caused. For some reason, I don't think Joe Canucks Fan was at Coach carrying out $500 purses.

So, instead of marveling at Bruins goalie Tim Thomas' save percentage (.940) or how 43-year-old Boston forward Mark Recchi had more points (seven) than the Sedins and Ryan Kesler combined in the series, the only stats that seem to matter now are following as reported by the CBC:

 Nearly 100 arrests, a figure that will certainly grow when riots/looters are identified via photos and video.

 Millions in damage. There was no immediate estimate, but the cost to repair the front of a drug store hit by the mob could reach $1 million alone.

 One hundred and forty people were injured, including nine officers. Four remained in the hospital with serious injuries.

 Two police cars destroyed.

Some have questioned the police response, but it has to be said this crowd was three times larger than what police faced 17 years ago. Measures were taken, like cutting off sales of alcohol in the city's downtown liquor stores in the afternoon.

Anarchists, booze and disappointment converged for a brutal blend last night.


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