Remember the aftermath of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final? No, not Zdeno Chara’s primal scream; nor Mark Recchi’s last game as an NHLer. We’re talking about the night that a segment of Vancouverites decided to loot and light their city on fire (insert Montreal joke here). In the wake of the disaster, the powers that be thought it would be a good idea to order an independent review of the night’s events. Everyone knew it was a horrible incident that was an embarrassment for one of the most beautiful cities in North America—but why? What caused the night to go horribly wrong? Aside from the Canucks winning the Cup, what could have been changed on June15th to avoid the humiliating riot that filled the streets of Vancouver?
NHL.com is reporting that the independent review’s findings have been released today in the form of a 396-page report. The findings are predictable to say the least:
“Keefe and Furlong offered two major problems from that day — there were too many people and they were too drunk — while offering 53 recommendations for future preparation and prevention with similar events.
According to the report, there were 155,000 people in downtown Vancouver when the Boston Bruins defeated the Canucks in Game 7. There were 446 police officers on duty in the area early in the day, and that number swelled to 928 by the end of the night — more than four times the number on duty when there was a riot during the 1994 Stanley Cup Final and two-and-a-half times the number for the gold-medal game at Rogers Arena during the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Keefe said part of the problem was deployment of the police officers was slow in the afternoon and the transition to tactical gear took as long as 40 minutes for some units after the order to do was given. He also noted, however, that a smoother deployment would not have prevented a riot from happening.”
Let’s make sure we have this straight: too many drunken people in too close of a proximity to each other, in an emotionally charged environment, without enough police supervision will lead to problems. Glad to hear it only took two months to come up with that kind of hard hitting analysis.
One of the authors of “The Night The City Became A Stadium,” Douglas Keefe and John Furlong, went onto say that the crowd of 155,000 people was “unpredictable.” To say that the crowds were unpredictable is naïve at best—but more likely disingenuous. Everyone around the hockey world knew there was going to be a huge crowd in the streets that night—common sense told us the crowd would be bigger for Game 7 than they were for Game 5 and Game 6. People knew that if the Canucks lost, there was a high likelihood for civic misconduct. None of this is second guessing: people were talking about the consequences before the game even started.
The report states that the city and police learned valuable lessons from the 1994 riot that followed the New York Rangers Stanley Cup victory over the Canucks. Unfortunately, even though the city was equipped with the lessons of the past, the independent review still had 53 recommendations for the city in the event of a similar circumstance in the future.
Good to know that if the Canucks lose in the Finals again, rioters will have to be more creative than getting drunk and looting with 1,000 of their closest friends.