As a writer, I hate seeing that phrase to begin as it reminds me of those e-mail chain letters but I can’t help but just beg you to read this just one time. I promise you I am not trying to waste your time. If you are a Canucks fan or a Vancouver resident, I urge you to read this as it matters like few other things do to every one of us. Whether you love Vancouver or you love the Canucks, I dearly love both even if our relationship is strained at times and so I don’t care which camp you’re in as long as you’re in one or both. This is important. I don’t know how many people will read this but if I can get a few more, it would be worth it.
Even if this point has been made already, I feel compelled to try to convince you for myself because of the gravity of this situation. Some of you might not need much convincing but others might. I apologize if you find me long winded and for not having a “too long, didn’t read” version available at this time as it is 6am and I’m writing on no sleep, editing photos from last night’s Vancouver riot after the Canucks lost 4-0 in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. It’s just how I write…I don’t know how to otherwise. Years and years of writing essays in school. Sorry but again, important. Long but I might need it to convince you to take action.
Whether you are a fan or not, I don’t care. I know that while many people in Vancouver are fanatics like myself, others don’t really care about the Canucks but this one time, we all need to agree on something and that is we need to put an end to this garbage before it happens a third time. Am I jumping the gun? Perhaps but if you saw the gravity of what happened last night in downtown Vancouver at ground zero like I did, you would rather be safe than sorry. My throat is still a little sore from coughing due to all the gas and smoke. The blatant idiocy that happened last night has and will cost us dearly whether it be from our wallets or our reputation worldwide, which has been at an all-time high since our awesome Vancouver 2010 Olympics and a historic Vancouver Canucks run through the playoffs. Whether you care or not, this is now what makes the news. Instead of a loss for us to hang our heads about for a couple weeks and take some trash talk from Bruins fans, we are now the laughing stock of the world for trashing our own home. How stupid is this? If you went mad inside your house and tore that thing down, you would be absolutely insane. How on earth is this different? We’re blinder than referees here.
I have to admit I am one of those people that will joke about a riot anytime the Canucks even come close to losing…even in the regular season. But that mostly happens when I’m in bars. It’s 17 years ago and like that ’94 game 7 loss, that riot has lost it’s sting. It is part of our Canucks lore, spoken of in damming tones like that damned goal post that Nathan Lafayette hit that could’ve sent the game against the Rangers into overtime. Yes, those riots were awful too but we can be lighthearted after some time. But jokes are jokes. I’m hearing conflicted reports that people are in the hospital and even that a fan died yesterday. I saw a man get kicked and pepper sprayed last night. This is insanity, people. What are we doing to ourselves? I never expected what happened last night.
I wrote last week that regardless of what the Canucks do in game 7, history had already been made. That was a long read as well but in short, we speak of ’94 affectionately and our greatest heroes were some of the men on that roster. I would have no words for a Stanley Cup win. I’ve dreamed of it often in the 20 years I’ve been a Canucks fan but I’ve had fun every year and I have great memories that I speak of often because I love this team. Well, maybe not of the Messier/Keenan era but you are a LIAR if you tell me you were a Messier fan then. A loss is a loss. We win together, we lose together.
Real fans don’t riot. Real fans take the loss, drink a beer or two and get prepared for discussing the off-season. We are all Canucks. Are you going to stop being a Canuck now? We don’t do this. We are sportsmen like our team. We are one of the best run organizations in the league. President’s Trophy winners. Western Conference Champions. Our boys have given millions to charity. For all the abuse the Sedins have taken, they took it upon themselves to give $1.5 million of their own money to help sick kids. I’ve met some of the players and they are the nicest guys in the world, even when I don’t expect them to be after a tough loss or they’re just going about their business. Burrows, in particular, seems to always have all the time in the world for fans. Does this look like the dirty team the media has portrayed them to be? No. And it sure doesn’t look like a team that deserves the negative press we’re all going to get for this fiasco.
Our city is in ruins today because of a few who decided this would be a decent excuse to cause some trouble. I know this because I was there and overheard a lot, mostly that the troublemakers couldn’t care less about how the game went. They were going to break windows, burn cars and steal from us whether the Canucks won or lost. The world’s headlines say CANUCKS FANS RIOT or something similar this morning. Mayhem! I saw was the headline in this morning’s Province. All because of a few. There were well over 100,000 people in the crowds downtown. There weren’t 100,000 rioters. There were probably a number of spectators and bystanders. The rioters aren’t fans. They wear our colors but they’re not Canucks.
A brave few were able to stand up to the masses, proclaiming that this was our city, what on earth were we doing to our own city? If you head to YouTube, I’m sure you’ll find more than a few courageous soups defending our honor. Thank them, if you will because they did what few could bring themselves to voice, even though I’m sure most of us felt the same way. I’m afraid I wasn’t one of these brave people. Actually, I’m one of the spectators that some of you yelled at for giving these people an audience. I agree with you but let me justify my actions. No, I wasn’t thinking all of this at the time but it’s gotten stronger in my mind as the hours have passed.
My grades may not have been straight A’s but I do hold a major in sociology and can tell a thing or two about mob mentality. Once that crowd was down there, if someone was going to incite a riot, it was going to avalanche because the wave of insanity would reach people faster than they could leave with all that congestion. People are curious creatures so naturally, many are going to want to see what’s going on and as the night goes on, more will join them. I decided that it wasn’t a good bet to hedge my safety or that of my friends in what was a lost cause, at least nothing that one man is going to stop. Many of the brave who urged the crowds not to damage buildings got things thrown at them or worse. I said weeks ago that win or lose, I would go downtown to celebrate with fellow Canucks fans that want to when it was all said and done on the ice.
That and I was carrying all kinds of camera equipment on me. I noticed that a lot of people were doing the same. The great thing about the internet and camera phones…you’re going to see every event from multiple angles and vantage points.
Basically, Vancouver, we have every single rioter who broke a window, turned over a car, tore trees from our ground (yes, that happened), and set our streets on fire is already on our memory cards. Some may have face masks but even then, some have identifiable tattoos and other features. We can get all these morons, Vancouver. You’re right, maybe I should’ve said a thing or two to prevent more damage to our city when I was down there last night…but most of it already happened. We can make sure right now it doesn’t happen again.
Why? Two reasons. Firstly, this is our home. As I mentioned before, we all look like this right now. How many of you did I hear in person or on the internet say how ashamed they are of what has happened? We all know what’s going on. It’s the people that wrecked downtown Vancouver that haven’t thought this all the way through. Remember our reputation as a no fun city? Imagine how it’s going to be now after the city realizes that even though they put on a huge party downtown for us, WE DID THIS. We’re like the kids that were given a sweet ninja weapons as a birthday gift on the condition that we wouldn’t attack anyone with it and then going and bonking someone in the head with nun-chucks. We screwed up with our fun toy, Vancouver and now our parents might take it away. What happens next playoffs? Sorry, fans…no awesome outdoor viewing screens no one else on the planet would do for a hockey team.
Secondly, the Canucks. Can you imagine how it must be to feel like the city rioted because they lost? Or worse…can you imagine how they’re going to feel NEXT playoffs when we might be here again. They’re going to want to lose just so we don’t burn this place to the ground! The riot didn’t happen because the Canucks lost but they might think that way. Despite what Ryan Whitney will tell you, the Canucks are one of the most desirable teams in the NHL to play for. Do you think players want to play here if they know our fans are psychopaths that will tear this place apart?
So I urge you, please…upload any photos you have of rioters that may assist the police in bringing these criminals to justice. If you aren’t convinced, tell me how I can convince you to do the right thing, right now and if I can convince you to tell everyone you know to do the same. They have stolen from us not only by stealing but by costing the city millions…which is money out of our pockets. Even if they are your family or friends, this was a stupid thing they did. If you aren’t going to identify them to police, I understand. At least talk to them and make sure they know how stupid it is to basically be taking money out of our own pockets and setting it alight. I understand the importance of blood but at least give them grief if you see a picture of a family member standing on top of a flaming, upside-down police car. Either way, we need to see these people punished. Don’t think we can’t do it? Even if that facial recognition is mumbo jumbo…with the internet, someone is bound to know who these jerks are. We have to do this.
If we don’t, how can the Canucks carry on? How can we carry on as a city if every time something cool happens, we burn it all up?
If all of us smart people are all together, we outnumber the idiots. I have to believe that, Vancouver. Let’s do this right the first time. If we don’t all do something, these people have nothing to fear. I hope you love our city and our hockey team as much as I do.
Contact the Vancouver Police Department with photo or video evidence or witness accounts by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 604-717-2541. I’m sure you can contact them any other way too…this is important. I’m sure they’ve got time.