The crowd appears calm before the riots started in Vancouver
The fallout from the, ahem, festivities post-Stanley Cup shellacking of the Canucks in Vancouver has been amusing to drink in.
The moral outrage expressed by media commentators and Vancouverites alike has overlooked the obvious. Canadians have an unhealthy obsession with our national pastime - hockey, not rioting, although sometimes it's hard to tell the difference the way the game is played these days.
Canadians pride themselves on being tougher than the rest when it comes to shinny. The fisticuffs and crashing hits into the boards invariably lead the six-o'clock all-sports news channels, without fail. Hockey, at least the North American brand, is a violent game.
Is it any wonder that the kiddies brought up on the Don Cherry school of rock ‘em sock'em ran wild in the streets burning cars, looting shops and mugging for the cell phone cameras while they cut a path of destruction through the city?
In their own twisted way, the rioters, many of them obviously a little too sauced on bad beer, were emulating their heroes (zeros?) on the ice. The game was lost so it was time to exact a little revenge. Happens all the time in the third period of games. It's called sending a message to the opposition.
Have we so quickly forgotten the trajectory of the Canucks-Bruins series?
There was the hit by the Canucks' Aaron Rome to the head of Bruins forward Nathan Horton, and the image of Horton's body laying lifeless on the ice, the television cameras catching Horton's eyes rolling into the back of his head. Rome got suspended for the rest of the playoffs for that.
That was followed by Canucks' Mason Raymond's fractured vertebra suffered in game six. That, more by accident than design after an innocent looking hit into the boards.
It didn't stop the Canucks brass, however, from trying to turn the incident into a point of contention before game 7. Raymond was announced to the crowd, standing to acknowledge their cheers - in a body cast.
The not-so-subtle messaging was not lost on the CBC's commentators working the game who wondered off the top if the Canucks could turn the injury to Raymond into motivation for the team, the way Rome's hit on Horton seemed to spark the Bruins earlier in the series. That's hockey, as the saying goes.
No doubt there were extenuating circumstances that contributed to the rioting in Vancouver. There were probably a few anarchists in the mix looking to cause trouble. Some observers chalk up the post-game violence up to the me, me, me mindset of privileged young people whose instinct is to throw a tantrum when things don't go their way.
But far and away the majority of the trouble makers were straight up hockey hooligans.
We should take note of the snickering the melee prompted around the world, in particular the ones making light of the fact the stampede was caused because "someone lost a hockey game." The rest of the world's perceptions say a lot about how other countries view the over importance we put on "our game."
We're fond of equating hockey to religion in Canada. The aftermath of the finals in Vancouver says its time we stop wrapping up so much of our identity in a game that seems to contradict the sense of tolerance and fair play we pride ourselves on as Canadians.