Riots mar end to spectacular season for Vancouver Canucks

Jun 16, 2011

It started out as remarkable, but ended in riots. The 2010-11 season for the Vancouver Canucks was one for the record books - in more ways than one.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says the violence that occurred on the streets of downtown Vancouver after Game 7 was a bizarre end to the "strange" championship series between the Canucks and the Boston Bruins.

Vancouver had best record in the National Hockey League in the regular season. They were favored going into playoffs. But, in the championship series, they blew a 2-0 lead and then a 3-2 lead. And when it came to goals, Art says Boston outscored the Canucks by 20-3 in the four games they won.

"It's just such a wild swing. Vancouver's wins were close. Boston was dominant in the other games. It's amazing that Boston, at the end, was by far the dominant team yet it took them seven games. You just don't see that in major professional sports."

It came down to the goalies. Art says Boston's Tim Thomas was amazing and definitely deserved to be named the Most Valuable Player of the series. On the other hand, Vancouver's Roberto Luongo struggled often.

After the game, Art says it appeared Vancouver police were unprepared for the violence that erupted. As KPLU reported Thursday morning, angry and mostly inebriated young people turned over vehicles - including police cars - and set them on fire. They also shattered windows and looted downtown businesses.

"This was an astonishing loss of downtown control. They seemed completely understaffed for what they had to know was the presence of drunken young hooligans who were out just to do craziness. These weren't hockey fans that were doing this, these were young kids out to destroy and call attention to themselves."

Art points out that police did a great job controlling the hundreds of thousands of people who were in the city last year for the Olympics. And Vancouver experienced similar riots when the Canucks lost to the New York Rangers in Game 7 back in 1994. So, what happened Wednesday night?

"I think they all had their minds on a victory parade and no one foresaw the debacle that happened on the ice and then afterwards. And that's a real shame."

You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest.