Rioters and vandals looted memories too

I had it all written out even before Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.

I had it all written out even before Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final.

I had put on my old sports jacket and dissected the Vancouver-Boston series and had already summarized that the Canucks downfall began the minute Maxim Lapierre taunted Patrice Bergeron by shoving his finger in his face near the end of Game 2.

That moment proved the Canucks, who were up 2-0 in the series at that time, were suddenly sinking from their lofty skilled style, which carried them past San Jose in the conference final, to the chippy no-holds barred style of many Eastern Conference teams.

That played right into the Bruins’ hands. After all, they really had no reason to dislike the Canucks like they did their other playoff rivals. But that move riled everyone and the gloves were off. The whole biting incident from Game 1 would have been forgotten if Lapierre had kept his hands on his stick instead of waving his finger.

In hindsight, to me that was the turning point of the series.

I was all set to write about that moment even more as time wound down last in last Wednesday’s deciding game.

As a lifelong Bruins fan, I’ve only witness my team win the Stanley Cup twice in my lifetime. And last Wednesday after the crowd flowed out of the Royal Theatre, I was going to finish work, head home and catch the highlights and relive the moment all over again, savouring every hit, every goal, every exuberant hoist of the Cup.

But I never got those moments. Those moments, the thrill of victory, the glow of a great series was all painted over with a black brush.

The TV wasn’t showing exuberant reaction from Boston fans and the wait-until-next-year reaction from Vancouver fans.

I didn’t get to see the wide grin on Tim Thomas’s face or the joyful sips from the Stanley Cup.

What I saw was chaos. Clip after clip showing idiots disguised as hockey fans turning a downtown party into a war-like setting.

I saw people cheering on destruction, all the while making sure they got a clip of the insanity on their cell phones.

I saw fires and looting and terror in the streets where hours earlier families had gathered to share a potential memory of a lifetime.

Instead it turned into a nightmare that still lingered when we awoke the following day.

A bunch of hoodlums managed to take two months of Stanley Cup fever and erase it from the public’s memory.

A bunch of vandals managed to change the conversation from hockey to destruction within a matter of a couple of hours.

A bunch of criminals managed to make an entire city looked upon with disdain and disgust.

I live over 600 kilometres from the epicenter of that mayhem but a bunch of morons managed to spoil even my enjoyment of the Bruins victory.

I wondered if parents, friends or family saw faces they recognized in the mayhem.

I hoped they had the courage to bring their child forward and accept blame as bravely as Roberto Luongo fielded questions after every dubious outing,

I didn’t feel like wearing a huge smile the next day. I smiled, of course, but the first words from my mouth had nothing to do with the hockey game but rather the aftermath.

I didn’t rejoice in the highlights, I wallowed in the lowlights.

But I’m not going to let these idiots spoil my long-term memory of the series.

I’m going to remember the nailbiting losses and the lopsided wins.

I’m going to remember the vocal and passionate rendition of “O Canada,” at the Royal Theatre.

I’m going to remember local hockey fans acting like sports fans not terrorists once the game was over.

I’m going to remember the pictures of the people cleaning up Vancouver the following morning and showing the rest of the country that was not Vancouver they saw the previous night.

The thugs had their drunken moment and hopefully justice will be served. But the image of the city nursing itself back to health, the hurt in the voices and the determination in the eyes of people wanting to make things right, might be the one memory that will stick with me longer than the win, the loss or the riot.

I had a great finish to my original column on the series.

One where Vancouver hockey fans emerged from their dens and living rooms to finally see their shadow, which meant only three more months left of summer before they can criticize Luongo again.

But the rioters managed to wreck that for me too.