Off The Post: Olympic-sized chaos in Vancouver

What a difference 16 months makes.

On the last day of February 2010, the city of Vancouver hosted what was the most anticipated hockey event on the planet – the Olympic gold medal game. Sidney Crosby’s goal sparked a gleeful mass hysteria that perpetuated all across the country. Yours truly was fortunate enough to have participated in the flag-waving celebrations at the intersection of Robson and Granville Streets – the heart of the shopping district which also served as the focal point of celebration during the XXI Olympic Winter Games.

Almost a year and a half later, the memories of festive, yet controlled, revelry are overshadowed by the appalling hooliganism of last night’s riots.

The sidewalks where complete strangers high-fived each other are now littered with chards of shattered windows.

The Bay on Seymour street, which had served as the Olympic merchandising hub for everything from clothing to souvenirs, is boarded with plywood.

All because of a Game 7 loss in the Stanley Cup final.

We should be talking about the polarized results of Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo’s performance in the two biggest games of his life. In 2010, “Luu” was focused and steady on a partial breakaway against Team USA’s Joe Pavelski in overtime allowed a Team Canada breakout which eventually culminated in Crosby’s golden goal. A year later the same netminder, in the same end of the rink where he once triumphed, played a breakaway so lethargically that Patrice Bergeron – Olympic teammate turned Stanley Cup final rival – clumsily scored the back-breaking goal from which Vancouver would never recover.

Yet somehow the on-ice performance seems rather inconsequential in the wake of the devastation to the city, as is continued to be depicted on news footage around the globe.

It took decades of planning to bring the Olympics to Vancouver and vault the city’s image as a first-class international destination.

It took mere hours for miscreants to blemish that reputation.

When the debris is finally swept up, the real losers in this chaotic mess are Vancouver’s honourable citizens – those in the vast majority – who had no influence on their fellow residents’ barbaric actions, but are forever linked to them merely by association.

They are not responsible for the lawlessness. In fact, quite a few of them have inscribed words of apology on the plywood that has boarded up The Bay.

While my memories of Vancouver 2010 certainly aren’t forever tarnished by the images that have been broadcast on my TV for the past 24 hours, it may be a while before the rest of the world feels the same way.

* * *

If you are a Bruins fan, there is no shortage of storylines to take away from the Stanley Cup win. From the gargantuan efforts of Conn Smythe winner Tim Thomas, to long-time Northeast foes turned allies Tomas Kaberle and Zdeno Chara winning their first championships, to 43-year-old Mark Recchi skating off with his third and final Cup, Beantown has reason to party.

Here’s hoping that one more name is inscribed on the holy grail of hockey – that of Marc Savard. The playmaking centre, whose career is all but finished after his latest concussion, played three full seasons in a Bruins uniform plus parts of two others, compiling 305 points in 304 games. Savard played only twenty-five games in 2010-11, well short of the 41 required to have his name on the Stanley Cup. Yet the NHL has the option of granting exceptions to this rule, such as was the case in 1994 when Ed Olczyk of the NY Rangers was the recipient of a successful lobby.

Savard is not likely to ever play in the NHL again. But given his contributions to the Boston organization since 2006, his place among the championship-winning team is well-deserved.


Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, and is a regular columnist at TMLfans.ca

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