It seems every time I go to Vancouver I always come back with an awesome story to tell,whether it was my break up with “Van guy” or it was caught in Downtown Vancouver for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup play offs with Vancouver and Boston in the final.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a HUGE Canucks fan so it’d only be natural for me to want to join fellow fans in Vancouver to cheer our team on to what hopefully would be their First Stanley Cup! Although that wasn’t the case, there was no shortage of excitement. I’m not going to surmise the Gigantic loss the Canucks took and give you a play by-play of the game, that’s what TSN is for. Instead I’ll share my experience down in the Fan Zone and what went on from my perspective.
We started the day off touring the city a bit and looking to gather some Canucks Swag, so we didn’t look like bandwagon fans who’d jumped on last-minute. Truthfully I owned a couple t-shirts with the Canucks Logo plastered to the front of them, but never owned a Jersey, my reasoning behind that was if I buy a Jersey mid way through the season, they’ll lose, its a weird superstition I have, but I proved the theory correct, buying the Jersey on game day. Sure, Canucks fans, you can blame me, Boston fans, you can Thank me.
The city was buzzing with excitement, people were high fiving and business men dressed in suits lost their jackets and wore a Jersey overtop their dress shirt and tie. I’d say a good 65% of people were donning a Canucks emblem at 10 AM, only to increase dramatically to about 90% by the time the game started. The mood was infectious, the smiles on people’s faces who were all excited the team had gone so far was remarkable and uplifting. Since I know nothing about the City of Vancouver or its craziness, I put out a few tweets asking the best place to watch the game. Many Replied with “Fan Zone is awesome, lots of big TVs” others suggested bars, but also said to get there 4 hours before game time if I wanted a seat. As we made our way around the city the lineups to the bars were 50-100 people deep at 1 PM the game didn’t start until 5PM, I didn’t think our chances of getting a table were good, so off to the Fan Zone we went.
The feeling in the Fan Zone was much similar to the feeling we’d felt earlier, there was a sense of pride and accomplishment that fans were living vicariously through the players. It was awesome. Many people had Canucks flags and replica Stanley Cups(cart before the horse if you ask me) that young kids would have their picture taken with. Fast forward to game time, everyone is up on their feet, chanting “Go Canucks Go” then the first goal is scored against Vancouver, everyone is slightly dejected and “Here we go’s” start escaping the mouths of some fans, but the positive vibe of the crowd is still there. Second period starts and another goal is scored, Vancouver still has 0 and Boston is up by 2, the crowd becomes increasingly frustrated by the lack of offence the Canucks are playing. People have already started climbing on top of buildings and giant signs and the atmosphere quickly changed from supportive fans to animals out to destroy and find blood. Suppose you could call them werewolves and Vampires if you like.
After the Second period ended I felt it was best that we leave then, Boston was up 3-0 and talks of flipping cars and people who “Can’t wait to break shit” was the newest topic of conversation. As we tried to make our way out of the Fan Zone we were stopped by two different flows of traffic, we were in the “Lets get the hell out of here” traffic that collided with the “Lets get closer to get down to business” traffic. I imagine it took us close to 30-45 minutes just to get out of the fan zone. As we were stuck in a jam the guys beside me said “So, what kinda car do you guys want to flip? A smart car would probably be easiest because its small, but I think we could do better” I didn’t say anything as I didn’t want to be on the receiving end of a fist or a mob attack, but I couldn’t believe it was actually something that was pre-meditated, I also have no doubt in my mind that those same guys were the culprits of the BMW that was set on fire. They wanted to go big or go home, and I’m sure they did just that. A few fights broke out among the crowd, few choice words were flying left and right and other than that and seeing a few destroyed “Pee-Cans” I didn’t see any cars being flipped or police presence for that matter.
By the time we made it back to our hotel there was only a couple of minutes of game time left, we waited until everything was over, by the time that happened our hunger pains had increased and we took the risk and went out to find some food. We went from the end of Howe all the way up to Davie street, to find something. Restaurants were still busy as the game just ended, the Gay bars had just opened up for people to begin enjoying their night dancing off their anger and the streets were fairly busy. We walked into a Shoppers Drug Mart when the manager came over the intercom asking everyone to quickly purchase whatever was in hand, as they were closing the store due to the risk of staying open with the Mobs moving closer to the area.
After we’d left trying to find anything to eat there were 3 helicopters circling right above us, they had previously been a little further away and although they were there, there was never a real concern about where the people and issues were, but with their new location in the sky we began to get a bit panicked. We found a pizza shop and placed our order but still had to wait the 15-20 minutes for it to cook before we could make a mad dash towards our hotel.
To make matters worse there was a guy randomly shooting people with Bear spray on Davie Street, and there were talks of gunshots fired close by apparently on the same street, but no one had an idea of where on Davie this was going down. We continued to walk down Davie, being tourists we don’t map out several escape routes to get back to the hotel, we take the path most traveled as it seemed to get us where we wanted to go quickly and easily.
Apart from a horrible smell of burning Oil and Rubber, we didn’t see anything. Sirens went off all night, but it’s not like it made a difference, the people involved in the riot made it very clear what they thought of the police. The next day I expected to see a city in Shambles, after watching the news all night it seemed like there’d be nothing left of the city. By 10 Am, most places who’d been looted either had new glass installed already, or had been boarded up. Apart from the wooden boards and the giant burn spots in the tarmac you’d never have known anything had happened.