The Canucks are second in the Western Conference, and largely the same team as last year, so it's time for the city of Vancouver to start asking some hypotheticals. What if the Canucks make another deep run? What if they lose in the finals again? What if they win?
The city hasn't changed: it's still the same mix of students and diehards and troublemakers crammed on a dense Downtown peninsula, and this time they'll have 40 years of pent-up disappointment. Yesterday the mayor and the chief of police held a press conference to lay out plans for the playoffs, and they boil down to two initiatives: putting more cops on the street, and discourage people from coming downtown.
The first is simple: more police, patrolling Downtown and mass transit, enforcing already-extant liquor laws. Nip the drunks in the bud, and the remainder will behave. The second is a multi-prong strategy meant to keep Downtown from turning into a giant party, where one overturned car can turn the energy kinetic and destructive. Vancouver will not put on any large public viewings of the games, after the big screen set up outside the post office was the spark for last year's trouble. As an alternative, there will be smaller events across the city, held in community centers or as block parties.
"The streets should not be surrendered to thugs and villains," advised the post-riot report released in August, and this is something of a balance between freedom and security. As Puck Daddy points out, it's at least more proactive than Vancouver's preparations for the last two riots. ("Preparations" meaning "No preparations, even though everyone knew shit was going to go down.") But the big question from last year remains unanswered: were these actually Canuck fans rioting? Or were they dedicated agitators who merely wanted to steal from London Drugs or Chapters, and donned the camouflage of Canucks jerseys to blend in? If the latter, they're not going to be deterred by free pizza and soda at their local rec center. Vancouver's best hope is that the citizens will be so embarrassed by how they came off last year that they'll police themselves. That's where I'd put my money, but come Game 7, all bets on rationality are off.