The Bruins finally ended their 39 years of heartbreak and Cup drought last night. winning the Stanley Cup 2011. The Bruins won over the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 in game 7, their very presence on the ice defined greatness with players who gave their best play.
While the high-spirited 5,000 Canuck hockey fans gathered to watch the giant 170 square-foot TV screen at the Surrey's Central City plaza game zone, things started to turn ugly after the third period. The dream that Vancouver would be the first Canadian-based club to hoist the trophy since 1993 turned instead into a ugly scene on the streets.
It was disappointing for the city - parts of downtown Vancouver erupted in flames, explosive booms thundered through the air after the city's Stanley Cup run ended in bitter defeat last night. Weeks of well-behaved crowds watching the Vancouver Canucks march toward Game 7 of the NHL final ended abruptly in violence and vandalism that erupted even before the 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins was officially over.
Police officers from around the region flooded into downtown and Mayor Gregor Robertson said things were getting under control, though the night that resulted may have the Mayor question twice.
Looters smashed windows and ran amok inside department stores, stores were looted and galsses smashed for many, the ugly chaos made the Cup loss an afterthought.
The violence appeared to start when fans set fire to a stuffed bear decorated to symbolize the Bruins. Spectators from the enormous outside viewing area gathered in front of the downtown Canada Post building and flipped a car, setting it ablaze. As it burned, thousands and thousands of people stood around, watching warily, with many making no move to get out of the area. Some group of the crowd could be seen trying to hold others back as the rampage continued. Many - including families with children - tried to flee, panicked and looking for safety.
The combination of police tear gas, pepper spray and smoke from the fires was choking.
The scene was vividly similar to one in 1994, when a Game 7 loss to the New York Rangers prompted a similar stampede of ugly riots in the downtown core when more than 200 people were injured and damages were estimated at $1 million.
Vancouver police had estimated $648,000 to cover the cost of crowd control during the Canucks' Stanley Cup run, but the final tally will soar higher as the night's scene lingered much longer and the downtown crowds have been much bigger than expected.
This isn't what the Canucks are about, said one of the Canuck fans who came to watch the final showdown. This isn't what their fans are about, this isn't what this city is about.
This was the Canucks' series. They were favoured. They won the first two games. Later, they had a 3-2 series lead. For the Canucks' mostly die-hard supporters, the loss was a stunning shock, the crowd going silent in the wake of successive Boston goals.