The Canucks Lose, Vancouver Riots In Collective Disappointment, And I Was There To See It All

Last Friday, I went to see Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals – a match between the Vancover Canucks and the Boston Bruins. I had come all the way to Vancouver from New York, partly to see family but mostly to experience the cup run in the city. Traveling such a distance wasn’t so strange, apparently; the man behind me in the ticket line told me he had flown all the way from Melbourne Australia to be home for the finals.

The Canucks have never won the Stanley Cup. In 1994, an underdog Canucks team made it all the way to Game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals, only to lose to the New York Rangers. A small scale riot broke out; some people were shot with rubber bullets, some were tear-gassed.

In the intervening years Vancouver became the most expensive city in North America. The hockey team underwent several transformations. This year, the Canucks were picked to win the whole thing right from the outset.

Game 5 – which I attended for $675 CAD – was what people call a “nail biter.” We won 1-0 on a late goal. Within a half hour, there were something like 70,000 people on the streets. It was the city-wide celebration that seemed to be what I was here for, the community of it, everyone behind the same thing.

Intellectually, you’ll find there’s nothing really defensible about sports fandom, but for those without religion or community it provides an opportunity to get wild with other people. Vancouver is ethnically diverse, but everyone shares the Canucks. Indeed, during Game 5, the arena seemed less of a sporting venue than a mega-church. And on the streets afterwards, you could hardly move – it was a roiling, animal energy.

Winning that game meant we had two chances to win the Cup – Game 6 the following Monday, in Boston, and if we lost that, Game 7 in Vancouver, which would happen the following Wednesday. The general feeling was that we had it in the bag, finally – we’d finally take the Cup. It seemed like a sure thing; if we didn’t win Game 6, well then – we wouldn’t lose Game 7.

But come Monday, Boston beat us 5-2. And then, last night, in a do-or-die Game 7, we got blown out: we lost 4-0. The collective disappointment was both both massive and destructive, and what thereafter occurred in Vancouver was reported by the news media as a riot.

At the time, I was sitting on a grass knoll near the harbor with my friend – it was a beautiful night – overlooking hundreds of yachts. But as we walked through the city toward my friend’s apartment on the East Side, we began to come across blue smoke and the smell of burning tires. When we got back to the apartment, we watched the thick of it on TV: cars burning, people hanging off street lights, random couples on top of each other, in the middle of the road, making out. People were frustrated and it was coming out in strange ways. The 70pt headline on read “RAGE” (the story was invisible to readers of It lasted around three hours.

Afterwards, we walked through the city to survey the destruction. The scene was somewhat surreal; we took pictures of ourselves next to overturned, burned-out cars (how easy is it to light a car on fire? Is it easy?); we came across a pair of smoldering hummers in a parking lot. Almost every window in the downtown core was smashed. The Canucks were so close to their first Stanley Cup. In the city that night, the disappointment couldn’t have been more clear. TC mark


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  • djlynt

    That was a friend of ours from Melbourne you chatted with. Chaos.

  • Veilside

    so you were one of the countless idiots taking photos in front of the carnage.

    great article bro, a shame you didn't get beaten.

    • rich

      “shame you didn't get beaten.”

      just read that a couple times back to yourself and think about it. try and imagine how your inexplicable sense of superiority meshes with the casual ignorance of your statement. feel 'shame.'

  • Calla

    so you think it's cool to pose in front of tossed over cars?

    • jack

      i think its cool

  • Aelya

    What an embarrassment to the country, honestly. Way to be savages.

    It's still our game. Calm the fuck down.

  • indi

    A poorly written and poorly thought out summation of an event that really had nothing to do with hockey, in the end.  And by one of the douchebags wandering around posing in front of the damage, doubly awesome. 

    Not everyone in Vancouver is a hockey fan (I for one can't stand it) and the general consensus among everyone I've spoken with is that the real Canucks fans were not the ones out trashing the city, they were the ones cleaning up after it this morning.  Last night's riot happened because a bunch of ignorant angry idiots decided to use the game as an excuse to fuck shit up, and now we as a city are going to have to deal with the repercussions for years to come. 

    People, please read this instead.

    • Jillypants

      yessss matt good. always blows my mind with his words.

    • adamhump

      What do you see as the “repurcussions”? All these Vancouverites who state that they are “embarrassed” for what they see as damage to the reputation of the city are vain. Would you rather project something more wholesome? Do you believe you live in a place where people wouldn't do something like this?
      These pictures were taken while I was walking home. I was drunk and sad. I DARE YOU TO SEE A FLIPPED OVER CAR AND NOT WANT TO TAKE A PICTURE OF IT.

      • Tim

        You were drunk and sad. That's the same reasoning as most of the Canucks fans. Lets not try and pretend that this was ok.

  • Moe

    Stay classy, Vancouver.

  • guest

    Seems a bit of a false economy to trash your own city.  I could kind of get it if they'd lost in Boston and gone nutso there. It's like trashing your flat if you live alone.  I thought Canadians were all polite.

  • canucks fan

    the first car was overturned / lit on fire maybe five metres in front of me at georgia and harrison. it seemed easy enough.

    the riot was just so unexpected cuz everybody (at least where i was standing) was chilled the fuck out sharing doobs during the game, i think most of us knew we were going to lose.


    no one cares about canada's 5 mins of fame

    • Calla

      yeah because your country is SO much better!


        the problem with canadians is they wanna talk shit about usa and be just like usa

  • Michael Koh

    What's the point of posing next to cars if you have a bike? [See picture 3]

  • Greg Petliski

    So they play hockey in the middle of june these days?

  • inflammatorywrit

    The flipped over/burnt cars just make me sad.

  • eferf51
  • eferf51
  • eferf50
  • AB

    And the disappointment which real hockey fans and the people who love this city feel over those idiots letting rip couldn't be more clear either.

  • lls611
  • anonymous

    For an interesting analysis of the riot, read this:

    The writer of the Tyee piece kind of sums up this TC article by saying the riot was driven by a need for digital attention. “I was there to see it all.” Awesome, dude.

  • Lndsnvk

    You weren’t there to see it all, you were there to see the aftermath & take corny posed photos.

  • STaugustine

    Canadian Hockey fans trash a city and all I keep seeing is a photo of young white people kissing. Interesting.

  • Jamie


  • the ghost of kirk maclean

    it’s a bro think-piece

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