MONTREAL (Reuters) - Celebrations for the Montreal Canadiens’ National Hockey League victory over the Boston Bruins turned into rioting late Monday night, leaving the city with a Tuesday morning hangover of broken windows and burnt-out cars.
Police said they arrested 16 people, including three minors, on charges ranging from public mischief to assault as roving bands of rioters broke shop windows and burned police cars after thousands of hockey fans streamed onto downtown Montreal streets after the game.
Montreal Police Chief Yvan Delorme said about C$500,000 ($500,000) of damage was done to 16 police cars, including five that were set on fire. One private vehicle was damaged.
“It was the police service that was targeted by those individuals, who were organized,” Delorme told reporters, adding that there could be more arrests.
Vandals also broke windows at 10 of the dozens of clothing and footwear shops that line Ste-Catherine Street, which is just a few blocks from the arena. Rioters grabbed bottles from a liquor outlet after smashing its windows.
Television images showed youths, some wearing hockey jerseys, attacking police cars and sometimes using their own cellphones to take photo or video images of the carnage. In one sequence, youths repeatedly rammed a large metal garbage container into a parked police car.
Video recordings of the vandalism were posted to video-sharing website YouTube.
No serious injuries were reported from the rioting, which began a couple of hours after the Canadiens dispatched the Bruins 5-0 to win the seventh and deciding game of their NHL Eastern Conference quarter-finals.
Delorme said police had cordoned off an area downtown after the game and the celebrations began peacefully. But the situation deteriorated quickly when some fans began throwing rocks at shop windows and police cars.
Delorme appealed to the public to rein in any further celebrations to avoid street violence during the playoffs, which will continue for Montreal against either the Philadelphia Flyers or New York Rangers.
With the win against Boston, the Canadiens advance to the second round of the playoffs in the storied team’s quest for a 25th Stanley Cup championship. They last won the cup in 1993.
Reporting by Robert Melnbardis; editing by Rob Wilson