VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Riot police fired tear gas to control a mob that burned cars and looted shops in downtown Vancouver on Wednesday after the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup final to the Boston Bruins.
Thousands of people had jammed into the heart of downtown Vancouver in the hopes of celebrating the Canucks’ first Stanley Cup but the party scene descended into violence after the Bruins emerged with a 4-0 victory.
The ugly scenes brought back memories of a riot that erupted when Vancouver also lost the Stanley Cup in 1994 as groups of mostly young men threw bottles, attacking parked cars and smashed store windows.
“There was a group of people fully intending to make this into a 1994 event,” Mayor Gregor Robertson told reporters, saying a group of “angry young men” had decided to disrupt an otherwise peaceful event.
Hospital officials said several people had been treated for stab wounds and many more for exposure to tear gas or pepper spray. Police have not released any information on how many people had been arrested.
A Reuters reporter saw at least a half dozen cars burning or destroyed by fire, including two police cars. Many more had been overturned or had their windows smashed. Several stores had also been looted or damaged.
While many fans were in a party mood, others, clearly fueled by alcohol, were furious at their team’s defeat to the Bruins.
One man yelled: “I hate you, Boston!” while others shouted insults at the police.
Others watched the chaos in disbelief. “I don’t understand why people would trash their own city,” said another.
The crowd thinned by the early hours of Thursday morning but some continued to try to destroy property as police in riot gear attempted to contain them in a small area of downtown.
The scenes were in sharp contrast to those after the 2010 Winter Olympics, when a massive street party erupted in the same area after Canada beat the United States to win the men’s ice hockey gold medal.
Mayor Robertson did not think the violence would destroy the favorable international image the Pacific coast city had built in hosting the Games.
“I think people will understand that this is a small group of troublemakers who have trashed our party,” Robertson said.
Reporting by Allan Dowd; additional reporting by Nicole Mordant; Editing by Peter Rutherford