Vancouver city council rips NHL over Stanley Cup riots; Do they have a point?

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The riots that erupted in Vancouver after the Canucks lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals to the Boston Bruins were one of the most embarrassing things to happen in recent memory. After seeing all the crime and vandalism break out in one of North America’s most beautiful cities all thanks to losing a championship game made everyone feel disgusted that such a thing could happen.

While the Vancouver Police Department report said that their police force was overrun by the sheer number of people, intoxicated and otherwise, another Vancouver government group feels that there’s another group to blame for what happened.

The Vancouver city council filed their report on what happened and pointed the finger squarely not at their own citizens for acting like hooligans but at the NHL for allowing it to happen.

Seriously.

Rod Mickelburgh of The Globe And Mail has the baffling story out of a city that finds a new way to make an ugly situation look worse.

“In spite of four Stanley Cup riots in the last five years, [the NHL] has no approach, no policy and no apparent strategy to work with host franchises and municipalities on this issue,” says the lengthy internal report to be debated at a special council meeting on Tuesday.

“[This] clearly … threatens the value and perception of their brand.”

The city’s criticism of the NHL follows similar barbs tossed at the league by the provincially appointment independent review of the riot, headed by co-chairs Douglas Keefe and John Furlong.

In their report released last week, they said it was “unfortunate and regrettable” that the NHL has no specific programs to help teams “with the kind of challenge [Vancouver] faced that night.”

Concluding that the sport of professional hockey, itself, cannot be separated from the riot, they urged the NHL to work with teams and communities to promote “peaceful, happy hockey celebrations.”

Pardon us but… What?

Let’s get this straight, the NHL is supposed to help the city with how to protect themselves and deal with a massive crowd that at another time in their history showed that they weren’t able to handle losing in the Stanley Cup finals well at all? Shenanigans have been declared.

This the City of Vancouver’s way of passing the buck and shuffling the blame for the insane and foolish violence that broke out to help make themselves look good and the NHL like the big, bad corporate entity that’s forcing hockey and excitement upon them. The NHL is in the business of playing and hosting hockey events. Protecting the people and maintaining civil peace is the sort of job we’re pretty sure the police department would be insulted at being told what to do by the league.

As it is, the Canucks are already going to start working with the city closer to help better manage these events in the future, but the city coming out and ripping the NHL for this comes off as petty and gutless.

Given that the city erupted in violence in 1994 when the Canucks lost to the Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals, this was something the current police department and those involved had to at least be prepared on how to handle. After all, they were going to have a civil disturbance (albeit a joyous one) if the Canucks had won the Stanley Cup this year. With the team being humbled at home in Game 7 after a raucous and mutually agitating Cup finals series, the possibility that there’d be troublemakers looking to use losing as an excuse to raise hell had to be in the back of their minds and there had to be a contingency plan in case things got out of hand.

In other words, the city and the police force not being properly prepared isn’t the NHL’s problem. The NHL doesn’t control the fans and they certainly don’t run the City of Vancouver or any other cities around North America where hockey is played. If the NHL gets in the business of hiring their own private security firms to handle event security then that’s fine, put it on them. For this, however, Vancouver had to know what they were getting into and they had to know based on their own recent history what might happen.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.