In a span of 5 minutes the police went from politely dispersing the crowd to rifling canisters of tear gas down the street. I sat in a sports bar with my friends and watched a riot break out on the street at the same time I was watching it happen on TV. The whole thing was surreal. We were on lock down for several hours and when they finally let us out (through the back alley) it looked like the Decepticons had torn through the city. There were cars flipped over, dumpsters on fire, and businesses with their windows broken out. Insane.
The bigger question is why did the riot happen in the first place? Some friends have suggested that a riot was inevitable whether the Canucks won or lost the game and in retrospect they may be right. I think it boils down to a few people who used the event as an opportunity to wreak havoc and stir up chaos. The very nature of a riot promotes anonymity which brings out a behavior most people wouldn't normally engage in if they were by themselves. It's a power kick perpetuated by a safety in numbers.
In the end I feel sorry for the people of Vancouver. Not only do they have to suffer through the 3 month hangover associated with losing the Finals there is the bad press from the riot that portrays the city in an unflattering light. The folks I spoke to used the words embarrassed and humiliated.
Somewhere lost in all this drama is the fact the Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks played one hell of a series and if TV ratings are any indication hockey is gaining popularity. At least there is something positive to take away from the experience.