You must remember this: Amid the chaos of the rioting after Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, a young couple, captured in a moment of intimacy. Here is how fate and chance converged on the streets of Vancouver to create the most compelling sports image of the year—and what the mayhem of that night says about the nature of modern fandom
This is an article from the Dec. 26, 2011 issue
When the first police car erupted in flames in downtown Vancouver on Wednesday, June 15, not long before the first pylon crashed through a department store window and shortly after the first bloody brawl broke out, photographer Rich Lam was perched above the ice of Rogers Arena, firing off as many as six frames a second during the third period of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. At the same time, mechanical engineer Josh Evans, wearing a Canucks jersey, was sipping a vodka and water at a packed sports bar a mile from the stadium; Vancouver police inspector Steve Rai was racing to don riot gear downtown as rocks whizzed through the air; Australian barista Scott Jones and his girlfriend, Alex Thomas, were preparing to leave a friend's apartment to check out the commotion; sociology professor Robert Carrothers was at home in northern Ohio, calling up TV feeds on the internet; and Bruins winger Milan Lucic was on the bench during a penalty kill, trying to control his breathing.
By the end of the night the city would suffer millions of dollars in damage and more than 150 people would be injured in one of the worst riots in the history of North American sports. Of the seven people mentioned, one would end up in jail, two would become famous around the world, and all would have their lives changed in some way, small or large, by the events of the evening—events that led to an overwhelming sense of civic shame, questions about the nature of sports fandom and, in the end, one indelible image.
Lam had awoken at 4:45 that morning and hurried through the darkness to his car so he could pick up two photo editors and arrive at Rogers Arena by 5:30 a.m. to set up the overhead camera remotes. A 36-year-old Vancouver native freelancing for Getty, Lam had photographed 12 playoff games so far, shooting the action as the Canucks dispatched the Blackhawks, Predators and Sharks before entering the finals as favorites against the Bruins. With each game the photographer had seen enthusiasm in Vancouver grow until, during Game 6 of the finals, it morphed into something different—something darker—as the crowds downtown swelled to 85,000. Now, with a hockey-crazed city on the brink of its first NHL championship, Lam had an ominous feeling. When a friend said he would head into the city with his kids for the Game 7 viewing party near Rogers Arena, Lam interrupted him: "I wouldn't do that if I were you."
As he drove over the Cambie Street Bridge on an unseasonably warm morning, Lam surveyed the city at first light. In many respects downtown Vancouver is an urban paradise, with a temperate climate, abundant recreation and a bustling center set amid spectacular natural beauty. It is also situated on a peninsula, surrounded by Vancouver Harbor and English Bay and connected to the rest of the city by only a handful of major arteries, one of which is Georgia Street—the same street officials planned to shut down at noon to accommodate the 100,000 fans expected to descend upon the city.
Lam was relieved to be getting in early. Once all those people were downtown, it would be difficult for anyone to get in—or out.
Just before noon, Police Inspector Rai sat at his kitchen table, finishing an early lunch and watching hockey highlights on TV. Tall, handsome and in his mid-40s, Rai is a lifelong Canucks fan with one household rule: When Daddy watches hockey, he prefers to do so alone. Rai had set his DVR for the night, having drawn duty during Game 7.
On game nights Rai, a 21-year veteran of the force, serves as a public order officer. If anything were to happen, he would be the tactical commander for much of downtown, including the Live Site on Georgia Street, where three giant flat screens were being set up for the viewing party. Not that he was worried. So far the Stanley Cup playoffs had gone as smoothly as the 2010 Winter Olympics, during which 150,000 people arrived downtown each day, mostly without incident. Over the previous two months Rai had worked 23 Canucks games, and his biggest problem often had been a sore right hand from the high fives friendly fans gave him. One evening the crowd had broken into a chant—"VPD! VPD! VPD!"—as he and his crew strolled the streets.
Rai felt confident. He figured he'd walk the perimeter, chat with fans and quiet a few rowdy drunks. If he was lucky he'd be home in front of the TV by 11 p.m.
At 2:50 p.m., Lucic, a 6'4", 220-pound leftwinger, stepped off the Bruins' bus and entered Rogers Arena, surrounded by a police escort. Already, 2½ hours before the 5:20 face-off, fans were milling about—young, overwhelmingly male fans, with faces painted blue-and-green and Canucks logos shaved in their hair. Many had been drinking for hours. Not that any of this surprised Lucic.
That morning he had gone for a stroll with five teammates along the Vancouver seawall. As they walked, they were serenaded by Canucks fans chanting, "Bruins suck!" Lucic had laughed and nodded along. As the only Vancouver native on the Bruins, the 23-year-old Lucic understood what hockey meant to the city. Like all local boys, he'd grown up on skates, watching Hockey Night in Canada on Saturdays and dreaming of being Trevor Linden. After more than 40 years in the NHL, this was the city's best shot at the Cup.
Now, as Lucic made his way into the locker room, he felt his anxiety—about the stakes, about playing in front of friends and relatives—begin to evaporate. Two hours later, when coach Claude Julien would address the Bruins, telling them to focus on finishing the first period tied or better, Lucic would be the least nervous he'd been all day.
A little more than a mile to the northwest, the Australian Jones and his Canadian girlfriend, Thomas, walked off the train and into a downtown that was swarming with people. Many businesses had closed at 3:30 or 4 p.m, which sent a flood of workers into the streets. The Live Site had reached its capacity of 31,900 at four, an hour and 20 minutes before game time, and police were reporting rampant public alcohol consumption. SkyTrain, the transit system, had been registering "crush loads" on the inbound Expo/Millennium and Canada lines since 3:30, bringing as many as 500 people into the downtown grid every 90 seconds. The population of this small chunk of real estate was growing dangerously.
Jones, 29, and Thomas, 24, were headed to a viewing party at a friend's apartment in the West End area of downtown. A square-jawed, affable type who'd been in Vancouver since October 2010 on a work visa, Jones didn't follow hockey but loved the Stanley Cup atmosphere. He and Thomas had met shortly after he arrived, and they were scheduled to depart in three days for a California vacation before flying to Australia. Though the couple hadn't yet packed, they couldn't pass up this opportunity. Like everyone else, they came downtown to witness history.
In Ada, Ohio, Carrothers was watching in his living room when Boston center Patrice Bergeron scored to give the Bruins a 1--0 lead at 5:50 p.m. Vancouver time. One of a handful of academics who studies sports riots, he agreed with his mentor, Kent State emeritus professor Jerry M. Lewis, that five key factors led to an outbreak: championship stakes, a long series, a natural urban gathering place, the presence of a cadre of young (usually white) men and a close game.
Now, with Boston ahead in Game 7, Carrothers was growing more certain there would be a riot—not a huge leap, as more than half of championship games or series in the U.S. spark some sort of violence, making sports the most common cause of riots in America. What's more, Carrothers knew exactly where the rioting would take place if the score stayed the same: Boston.
After all, one assumption underlay all of Carrothers's and Lewis's work: The winning city was the one that rioted. Of the more than 200 U.S. sports riots Lewis had studied over two decades, only a tiny handful had occurred in the losing city.
It was around 6:30 p.m, just before Boston scored again to go up 2--0, when Rai began to sense something was seriously amiss. The day had gone well enough so far. He'd arrived at the Cambie Street police station at 2:00, put on his regular uniform and stood in a muggy third-floor room in front of a group of officers—part of an additional corps brought in that put the night's initial police force at about 500—and reviewed the action plan. Throughout, preparation and organization were stressed. After all, no one wanted a repeat of 1994.
The last time the Canucks had made the Stanley Cup finals, the riot in downtown Vancouver after the team lost Game 7 to the Rangers in New York had cost the city more than $1 million and led to more than 200 arrests. Canucks fans had climbed street signs, lit fires and attacked police. Rai, a young off-duty constable at the time, was called in but never deployed. He watched on TV while the VPD struggled for six hours to subdue the rioters. In the wake of that night, the department had embraced a proactive approach. Now, like all Public Safety Unit command staff, Rai had been required to attend a training course at the West Midlands Police Public Order School in the U.K., where he learned innovative strategies that were deployed against soccer hooligans.
In particular the VPD had embraced the strategy of "meet and greet," wherein officers interact with a crowd early on to announce that the police are present and active. Hence all those high fives, hugs and photo ops during the playoffs.
Tonight, however, felt different—even though the city had spent some $1.3 million on preventive measures. Rai had been on the street since 4 p.m. and dispensed only a handful of high fives. All the while the mass of people had continued to grow; by 5:15 the CBC was estimating that the crowd in downtown Vancouver had topped 100,000, and inbound SkyTrain lines continued to deliver crush loads.
The vibe on the street was edgy. On the outskirts of the Live Site, Rai saw a young mother with a stroller trying to navigate the crowd. "How far up is the screen?" she asked him, craning her neck.
"Ma'am," he replied, "I don't think you're going to make it up there." He looked at the people around her—young, sweaty men yelling and bumping each other, now jammed so close that officers were unable to make their way through the sea of bodies. Where, he wondered, were all those happy fans from earlier in the playoffs?
At 6:49 p.m., Bergeron scored on a shorthanded goal to make it 3--0 Boston late in the second period. Sitting on the bench, where he always remained during penalty kills, Lucic looked down and saw his hands twitching; he was so excited he was literally shaking. Two levels up, Lam turned to his right and, half joking, said to a peer, "They're going to burn this city down tonight."
It was midway through the third period when fans began lobbing bottles at the giant screens at the Live Site. Not long after, at 7:18 p.m., 30 to 40 people were reported fighting at Homer Street and Dunsmuir. Twelve minutes later, 911 operators received calls reporting "rioting in the streets" and VPD officers "losing control of the crowds." Shortly thereafter, a group of firefighters was swarmed by crowds, looting was reported at the Gucci store on Georgia Street, and EMS received a call to treat a spinal injury.
At 7:45 p.m., the final horn sounded on a 4--0 Boston victory. From the bench Lucic burst through the gate and onto the ice, threw his gloves and helmet into the air, and raced to the huddle of players by the net. The Bruins were the 2011 NHL champions.
In Ohio, Carrothers pulled up Boston media feeds on his desktop computer, prepared for chaos. What he heard was shocking: A riot was under way, but it wasn't where he expected.
In the West End, Jones and Thomas followed the noise. From their friend's balcony they'd heard the booms and seen the smoke rising over downtown like a winter haze. Jones had played Australian Rules Football as a kid in Melbourne and had been to plenty of rowdy games, but he'd never seen anything like this. It was "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to witness something extraordinary, he told Thomas as they headed out into the twilight, toward the lights and the smoke.
Half a mile away, at the corner of Seymour and Robson in central Vancouver, Rai felt as if events were going from zero to 100 in about 45 seconds. Through his earpiece, he began getting reports from the Live Site. "We've got a fight." Then: "We've got another fight." Then someone calling "1033! 1033!" the code for officer down. Seconds later: "They're rocking a vehicle." Then: "The vehicle is tipped over and on fire."
Typically, riots begin in a centralized location. In political or race riots, participants often assemble in or break from a single spot. What troubled Rai was that this riot appeared to have multiple flashpoints, some as much as a mile away from the arena.
By now he could smell smoke and hear explosions. Then it was all upon him. A girl ran up, screaming that she'd been hit over the head. On the radio Rai heard a commander raise the situation to Level Three, the official designation for a riot. Rai signaled his crew: Time to don the riot gear. The equipment was blocks away in their police vans, and even after the officers got to the vehicles at the corner of Nelson and Granville, it took them some 20 minutes to change into the bulky riot gear—which with its pads and helmets, Rai noted, was not unlike hockey equipment. Meanwhile the reports went from bad to worse: Fire crews were being mobbed, shots had been fired, store windows were being smashed and people were falling off the viaduct. Mobs formed, jeering police and becoming bolder by the second.
Most in the crowd, Rai noticed, were brandishing cellphones. That's when it hit him: The violence was being filmed, en masse, in some instances by the same people doing the rioting. Later Rai would spend hours watching footage of the riots, disgusted and astonished.
From inside the safety of the Loose Moose, a bar just off the main downtown entertainment strip on Granville Street, 27-year-old Vancouver native Josh Evans, the mechanical engineer, watched as cops, now outfitted with gas masks, shields and batons, walked by, headed for the Live Site. As the police left, fights broke out on Granville and cars were overturned. Evans and his friends thought of leaving, then realized it was a bad idea. By this point there were at least 155,000 people downtown. The roads were clogged, catching a taxi was out of the question, and SkyTrain was undoubtedly packed. The best idea, they decided, was to stay put.
Not long afterward the violence escalated, leading the Moose's owner to shut the windows and lock the front door. Overhead the same TVs that had shown the game now showed images of burning cars.
In Ohio, Carrothers followed the Vancouver TV feeds with morbid fascination. He and Lewis had been wrong before—they'd expected Dallas to riot after the Mavericks won the NBA title—but this was even more unusual.
Carrothers had been concerned earlier in the day when he heard about the Live Site, a large urban gathering place that the city was actually encouraging people to swarm to. Even so, while European fans of the losing team often rioted—"providing an outlet for frustrations of a powerful nature," as author Bill Buford put it in Among the Thugs—in America losers tend to go home and mope. It was the winning fans who wanted to be part of the experience. That's what led to the vandalism: fans looking for approval from other fans. Lewis believed this was a stand-in for athletic accomplishment. Look, I might not be able to throw the football 70 yards, but I can turn over this car.
Shortly before 8:15, Rai finally reached the Live Site. Surveying the scene, he was disoriented in a way he later compared to taking an open-ice hit. In more than two decades as a cop, nothing had prepared him for the sensory overload, the sea of angry people stretching as far as he could see. To his left a garbage can burned, acrid black smoke invading his nostrils. On his right a torched vehicle sent flames into the sky. He could see a construction fence swaying, ready to go down. Whose kids are these? he wondered. What happened to the Canucks fans? What happened to Vancouver?
Then, in his earpiece, more troubling news. At 8:15 p.m., the VPD authorized the use of blast balls filled with pepper spray, usually a foolproof tactic to clear a crowd. Now Rai was hearing that the pepper spray was having no effect. Rioters were covering their faces with scarves and arming themselves with metal fence poles. The mob was too strong.
Back inside Rogers Arena, Lam was doing what he'd been instructed to do: Go wherever the Cup went. So he did, snapping hundreds of photos of the Bruins' victory celebration. At the press conference, however, he was stopped cold by what he saw on a TV in the corner. Outside, the city—his city—was in chaos.
Lam wasn't totally surprised. In '94, as a college student, he heard rumors of trouble brewing before Game 7 of the Finals. "We'll never be a big-time sports city until we have a riot," he heard people say. Now, 17 years later, it was as if the next generation wanted its own chance to prove itself. It was distressing, but to Lam, as a news photographer, it was also an opportunity. When the presser ended, he headed out.
Lam had covered riots before and had learned two things: First, it was important to stay aware and keep moving. Second, to make a great photo he had to get right in the middle of the action. Lam traveled light, having decided not to take along a flash, which could draw attention and make his camera look larger. As he hit the street, he could hear explosions in the distance. Around him, though, it was eerily quiet.
It wasn't until Lucic was in the locker room—after the Cup ceremony and an emotional moment with his parents—that he heard about the riots. One of his brothers, celebrating with him, received a text, then turned to him. "They're going nuts out there," his brother said. Now Lucic found a TV and watched. He'd been in Vancouver in '94, as a six-year-old. He couldn't believe it was happening again. As a player he had a different perspective now. All this over a game?
On the streets, all hell had broken loose. Dozens of vehicles were on fire, and police had closed all bridges inbound and outbound. Messages at suburban SkyTrain stations read, Due to the unstable situations in Downtown Vancouver, we strongly advise customers NOT to travel downtown until further notice.
At first Jones and Thomas had been captivated by the madness, standing to the side and watching like so many Vancouverites. Now they had seen enough. Jones grabbed Thomas's hand, and they started walking, looking for a SkyTrain station.
Having left the Loose Moose, where tear gas had seeped through the ventilation, Evans and his friends, too, were looking for a train. As they tried to get to a station, they came upon a troubling scene on Hornby Street near the Fairmont Hotel: four young men kicking a couple of guys in the head.
Evans's friends tried to break up the fight. Words were exchanged, and like that the four kickers were on the attack. One came at Evans, but he misjudged his victim. Evans had played hockey, learned jujitsu and done MMA training. His reaction was instinctive: He got his attacker in a headlock. "I'm not getting involved, and neither are you," he shouted in the young man's ear. "I'm going to hold on to you until all this calms down, and then we're going to shake hands."
But things didn't calm down. The scuffle moved, hidden behind smoke and darkness. Unable to see his friends, Evans released his grip on the assailant and crossed the street. There he found a figure slumped on the sidewalk, doubled over, with blood seeping out of his back. Evans realized it was his friend Sunny Jaura. Another of Evans's friends knelt over Jaura and applied pressure to the wound.
Turning, Evans ran back, hoping to find the assailant, or witnesses. Instead he saw one of the four young men brandishing a knife. Fueled by adrenaline and outrage, Evans took two steps and put the kid in a rear naked choke hold, wresting the blade out of his hand. Then, with the knife in one hand, he dragged the kid back toward his friends. That's when Evans heard the voice—"Drop the knife!"—and looked up to see Vancouver police, their guns trained on him.
Three blocks to the east, at just after 10 p.m., Lam hurried down an alley, turned a corner and found the epicenter of the riot. After exiting Rogers Arena he'd seen little worth photographing, just a landscape of burned-out cars and looted buildings. Then a friend heard that the Hudson's Bay department store, a venerable six-story structure at the corner of Seymour and Georgia, was on fire. Getting to the Bay hadn't been easy—Lam ducked past police horses and jigged down an alley past burning cars—but that was part of the job. As he would later explain, "When you're a news photographer and everyone's trying to leave an area, you're trying to get into it."
Now he emerged to find an apocalyptic scene on Seymour Street: cars aflame, looters streaming through smashed windows with $500 Louis Vuitton bags. It was, Lam would later say, like "a Black Friday sale—people just running around with bags." A squadron of police stood at the end of the street in riot gear, waiting for the signal to move in.
Lam stayed low, moving and shooting as if his head were on a swivel. He needed to stay alert. When he looked up, he sensed a change in the crowd.
At the end of the street the police were massing, forming what they call a "running line." It's a technique borrowed, like most riot dispersion techniques, from the ancient Romans. Shoulder to shoulder, police in full riot gear brandishing shields and batons ran for 50 yards as one. If they needed to move the crowd in a certain direction, the police angled the line, like a squeegee across a wet windshield. Behind followed a tactical unit armed with rubber bullets and gas. It was remarkably effective; the crowd, no matter how ornery, reacted instinctively and sprinted away from the oncoming police. To Lam it looked like the running of the bulls.
Lam had moved ahead of the police line so he could turn and shoot back at the scene. Now that they were advancing upon him, he decided he was no hero. He ran once, then again, and was eventually pushed onto Seymour Street, where he finally stopped outside the Blenz Coffee Shop, between Georgia and Robson.
When he turned to survey the scene, he saw them.
Alex Thomas turned to run, but when the police charged she fell. Before Jones could pick her up, the line was on top of them, hovering, batons raised. "Please stop!" Thomas yelled while Jones covered her and cops pressed them down with their shields. After a few long seconds the officers moved on, leaving the street—which seconds earlier had been aswarm with hundreds of people—empty except for Thomas and Jones. She lay on her back, crying, hysterical. He bent over her, trying to comfort her. Then, in a moment of tenderness, he kissed her.
Thirty yards away, Lam saw a photo: a couple alone in the street, hurt. His instinct was to frame them up, with a riot officer in the foreground, and start firing.
Without his flash, Lam had to work with the available light, in this case a fluorescent haze from a nearby parking garage and the orange glow of fires. This forced him to use a lower shutter speed—1/40th of a second—which with his 200mm focal length meant even the slightest movement would blur the photo. Using an ISO of 6400 and an aperture of f2.8, he pressed the shutter, getting off two shots with the cop in the foreground and four more of the couple alone before a woman ran in to help. The moment was gone. It was 10:22.
Lam didn't linger. Glancing at the screen on the back of his camera, he saw that the girl's legs were in focus. Good enough. He had to keep moving. Five minutes later he got a call from Michael Heiman, the Getty photo editor. Time to come back.
Not far away, Evans lay on the asphalt, his Canucks jersey now grimy and bloody, his hands cuffed behind his back. He couldn't believe it: They were arresting the wrong guy. So far he'd done nothing but comply with police orders. When they had yelled for him to drop the knife, he had. When they told him to let go of the kid, he did. His friends had argued on his behalf (He's innocent!) to no avail. Now a police van pulled up, and Evans was loaded in, along with the kid with the knife, both headed for a holding cell with dozens of looters and rioters. On a night when an estimated 15,000 criminal acts took place, Evans was one of the 150 or so people who were arrested.
Back at the arena Heiman, the Getty editor, had finished going through more than 9,000 pictures of game action and celebration and sending his selections out on the wire. Now he was flipping through riot shots—the frames becoming a blur of flames and looters and police. Heiman had one more memory card to look at: Lam's. The editor went through the photos quickly, thinking about the beer he'd pour himself when the night was over. As he got to the final 10 frames, though, Heiman was stopped cold by what he saw: a woman on the ground in the middle of the street, a man comforting her. Even to Heiman's overworked eyes, the image was eerie and beautiful. Then he looked closer: The guy was kissing her! He did a quick crop, adjusted the contrast, wrote a caption—"Couple kiss in the street amidst the riot"—and sent it out on the wire.
In his eight years at Getty, Heiman had edited hundreds of thousands of photos, including pictures that ended up on the cover of The New York Times and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. None would become as famous as this one.
FIVE MONTHS LATER
It is a cool, drizzly late-November morning in Vancouver. To walk the streets is to see the scars of the riot, if you know where to look: fresh asphalt in parking lots where cars were torched, patches of melted black plastic on the sidewalk where portable toilets burned.
The riot was officially over at 12:32 a.m. on Thursday, June 16, when helicopters reported no more hot spots. Volunteer clean-up crews were already on the scene by then and would work through the coming days. But the wider healing has been decidedly slow.
Mayor Gregor Robertson at first blamed the violence on "hooligans," citing "the scale and organization of the criminals." British Columbia premier Christy Clark's in-box was flooded with e-mails in the days afterward, calling for tough action against the rioters. But it took months for any resolution. In August an independent riot review provided 53 recommendations for the future. In November the VPD announced the names of the first 25 people charged, with offenses ranging from taking part in a riot to arson and assault. Police released 35,000 copies of a poster with the photos of 104 alleged offenders it had yet to identify, many culled from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
On opening night of their 2011--12 season, the Canucks made a show of honoring those who had helped protect and clean up the city. Since then the franchise has tried to distance itself from the events of June 15. (The Canucks did not allow their players to talk about the riot for this story.)
Along the way, citizen heroes emerged: the woman who defended a BMW that wasn't hers, the man who tried to hold back an angry mob from a police car. There were also unfathomable acts: the Canadian junior national team water polo player who was taped trying to set fire to a rag in the gas tank of a police car, the hundreds of hooligans who posed for photos and video.
As for the seven figures in this story, they are still trying to make sense of the night.
Sitting in his office in Vancouver, Police Inspector Steve Rai is proud of his unit's performance. "People didn't realize the violence was a blanket, that it was all over," he says. "Like whack-a-mole." Looking back, he compares the VPD on that night to a sports team that's been training for years and then, on the day of the big game, has to come through. "Compared to the 1994 riots, we had twice the people and controlled it in half the time," he says.
Josh Evans, the mechanical engineer, spent 24 hours in jail before he was released. Four days later he was one of the first alleged offenders publicly identified at a police news conference. It took four months for authorities to withdraw charges against him, during which time Evans felt as if his life had been "turned upside down." He remains frustrated by the experience but doesn't harbor anger toward the VPD. As he sees it, the police were dealing with a difficult situation on a night when an estimated 2,000 911 calls were logged in a span of four hours. Still, he wonders why it took so long for his name to be cleared when it was announced so quickly, and publicly.
Scott Jones and Alex Thomas live together in an apartment in Melbourne. When the photo of their kiss went viral, the first reaction of many viewers was that it must have been staged. It was too perfect, too much like a movie poster. Then a video of the moments leading up to the photo surfaced, verifying its authenticity. That first weekend, Jones—whom one magazine dubbed the Riot Romeo—and Thomas received hundreds of media requests; now their lives have settled back to normal. Jones works at a bar in Melbourne, and Alex is a water planning engineer. The picture still follows them—Thomas's coworkers only recently discovered she was that girl—but they say that for the most part they've moved on. Jones still finds it weird that a hockey game could inspire such madness.
Madness? Milan Lucic recently took time out from a Bruins road trip to relive the night of Game 7. "As an athlete I cherish that people love you and love the game and the team, but I can't say I understand [the rioting] much," he says. "I've never cared for a team so much that I'd go nuts and break stuff. It's crazy."
Nine days later, in a game against the Ottawa Senators, Lucic would drop his gloves and engage in a spirited, 35-second bare-knuckle fistfight with another highly paid NHL player. Afterward 52.4% of voters on hockeyfights.com would call Lucic the winner.
In Ohio, professor Robert Carrothers is reviewing the accounts of the Vancouver riots with his colleague Jerry M. Lewis for an academic paper. Just as sports get more violent, Carrothers notes, so do fans. "It goes back to when a big college basketball game ends and fans rush the floor, or after a football game when fans tear down the goalposts," he says. "We've been socialized to these behaviors at this point." Lewis has coined a term for riots by the losing fans: the Vancouver Effect.
Rich Lam sits in a coffee shop on Georgia Street in downtown Vancouver in late November, near the epicenter of the riots, talking about that night. For him the aftermath was indeed chaotic: texts, e-mails, phone calls from NBC and NPR. He's pleased with the photo, happy for the recognition, but it is just that: a photo.
Now Lam is back at work. Two nights earlier he was on "riot patrol" at the Grey Cup, Canada's answer to the Super Bowl. After Vancouver's team, the BC Lions, defeated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Lam shot photos of players smiling and fans whooping and celebrations in the streets. The evening led to nothing worse than some good-natured drunkenness.
The next morning Vancouver media outlets praised the fans for their restraint.