Given how hockey-mad the city of Montreal is (they did sell out a viewing of Game 7 at the Bell Centre in 40 minutes) and given the somewhat checkered past Canadiens fans have after winning and losing big games, all eyes shifted to Quebec after the Canadiens finished off the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2.
The scene outside Bell Centre, to say the least, was manic, and much like the stereotypes that follow around fans of the Habs, some knuckleheads had to live up to the hype.
Police regained control of the downtown core early Thursday after firing tear gas at hundreds of bottle-tossing youths who looted businesses following the Montreal Canadiens’ Game 7 victory in Pittsburgh.
The vandalism occurred after most of the tens of thousands of jubilant hockey fans left the area.
Looters wrapped their faces in garments — in some cases the ones they’d stolen — and dashed into a liquor store. With their identities concealed, they leaped through the smashed front window and emerged moments later with their arms full.
Every fan base has its morons and having an excited crowd of 21,000 people dump into the streets is often asking for trouble. At least Montreal police was prepared for this, they’ve been through the routine before.
In 2008 dozens of fans were arrested and vehicles — including five police cruisers — and businesses vandalized following the Habs’ seventh-game elimination of the bitter rivals from Boston at the Bell Centre. Damage to the police cars alone was estimated at some $500,000.
That paled in comparison with riots which followed the last time the storied franchise won the Stanley Cup.
In 1993 fans leaving the old Forum converged with fans emptying packed bars along Ste Catherine St. after the Habs beat Los Angeles to claim their 24th title and looted stores all along the strip, setting police vehicles ablaze in a night of frenzy that sent nearly 1,000 officers into the streets and caused some $2.5 million in damage.
All you gather from reading that is just how crazy will things get if the Canadiens continue on this seemingly unbelievable run all the way and win the franchise’s 25th Stanley Cup.