Don’t Fuck with Hockey in Montreal

Ah, Canada. Land of clean streets and people that are polite to a fault.  Except when Hockey is concerned. Much like habs-celebration-riot-09Europe and its Football Riots, a Stanley Cup win, loss, or a suspension for a star player/ national symbol can send all that politeness right out the window of a burning Police Car. Take for instance these few (brief) examples from Montreal, home of the Canadiens, the NHL team who has held the Stanley Cup more often than any other team in history.

The Rocket Riot

Maurice “The Rocket” Richard was the most famous and beloved player in Canadiens history. A symbol of French-Canadian Pride, Maurice was not only unstoppable in his day (breaking scoring records that had stood for 27 years, winning 8 Stanley Cups) but also outspoken about the state of the NHL at the time, especially about the discrimination of French-Canadian players in the League by none other than the NHL president Clarence Campbell. Richard was often singled out by other teams for particularly rough treatment, which was often overlooked by NHL officials. Because of this Maurice began enforcing his own justice, frequently knocking out players after penalties were “overlooked” by officials that disliked French-Canadians and Richard. On more than one occasion even taking his rage out on the officals themselves. One such incident occurred during a game between the Habs and the Bruins on March 10th, 1955. From wiki:

Richard was given a match penalty for engaging in a fight with Hal Laycoe in a game against the Boston Bruins. He flattened linesman Cliff Thompson in the resulting     melee, and as that was his second attack on an official that season alone, a hearing was held: Richard was suspended for the balance of that season and the playoffs,     which was at the time, the longest suspension for an on-ice incident in NHL history. Public outrage from Montreal soon poured in, but NHL President Clarence Campbell     did not budge, and announced that he would be attending the Canadiens’ next home game against the Detroit Red Wings in four days.

Not a wise move, Campbell. The moment Campbell entered the arena, eggs, rotten vegetables, shoes, bottles and 127various other items began to rain down upon the head of Campbell and his young girlfriend. One fan attempted to attack Campbell, but was stopped by police. Another fan walked calmly up to Campbell, making the pretense that he wished to shake hands with the NHL head. Once close enough, this fan slapped Campbell twice in the face before being tackled by police. Moments later a tear gas bomb was thrown into the arena and and sent fans screaming into the streets where riots immediately began and swept through the area around the stadium. A interesting collection of newspaper articles from this time are located here.

The 86 and 93 Stanley Cup Riots

An Except from The Book of Lists, The Canadian Edition by David Wallechinsky, Amy Wallace, Ira Basen and Jane Farrow

You would think that, by the time the Montreal Canadiens had won the Stanley Cup a record 24 times, their fans would have learned how to celebrate peacefully. But     given their behaviour after the Habs’ last two victories, 464095binthat doesn’t appear to be the case. In 1986, 5,000 people rampaged through downtown Montreal following the     team’s victory over Calgary. So poorly prepared were the Montreal police to stop the violence that Quebec courts ruled the police criminally negligent. So, with the     Canadiens poised to win another Cup on June 9, 1993, Montreal authorities deployed close to 1,000 police officers, many of them helmeted riot troopers. It was not     enough. Moments after the game ended, thousands of people descended onto Ste-Catherine Street, setting bonfires, overturning cars, breaking windows and looting     stores. By the next morning, 15 city buses and 47 police cars had been destroyed, 168 people had been injured, including 49 police officers, and 115 people were in jail.     Damage was estimated at more than $10 million. Few people could argue with Montreal mayor Jean Doré’s assessment of it as “a regretful and appalling situation.”

And just in case you thought that riots like this are only things of the past, take a look at this article from April 22nd, 2008:

16 Cruisers Damaged in Canadian Hockey Riot

MONTREAL, Canada — At least 16 people were detained after riotous celebrations swept through downtown Montreal beginning late Monday, leaving a trail of burned     police cars and vandalized shops.Thousands rushed to the streets for initially peaceful celebrations following the Montreal Canadiens’ seventh-game win over the Boston     Bruins, which advances Montreal to the next round of the NHL playoffs.

The jubilation degenerated into mayhem around midnight, however, as hockey fans spilled onto the streets.”It started pretty well,” police spokesman Const. Laurent     Gingras told CBC News Tuesday.”Unfortunately, at a certain point some people gathered on Ste. Catherine Street. A couple fights broke out and police cars were also     attacked at that point.”A few hundred people, some intoxicated, marched down the downtown avenue, throwing rocks and bottles at police and torching vehicles, the     CBC’s Steve Rukavina reported from Montreal. Despiteinside-habs-riot-cp-47108141 increased police presence deployed to the streets before Monday night’s game, rioters burnt or smashed 16     police cars and at least five other vehicles. At least five businesses were ransacked as well, although Gingras said the damage was limited. “One minute we were all     hanging out and celebrating and then all hell broke out,” said Jean-François Hotte, who watched as a Foot Locker store was ransacked by looters. A liquor store was     also hit. “It didn’t take five minutes before everyone was up on Ste. Catherine Street. It went really fast.”

City police, backed up by riot squad officers, used pepper spray and batons to quell the crowd, which dispersed around 2 a.m. There were no reports of serious injuries.     Gingras said it was not immediately clear if the rioters were just rowdy fans or others who “used the occasion to do their mischief.” At least 16 people were detained,     including one minor, Gingras said. Possible charges include break-and-enter, mischief against a police vehicle, assault against a police officer and numerous municipal     bylaw violations.

Gingras said that while the investigation is continuing, large numbers of police will be present before, during and after upcoming hockey matches at the Canadiens’ home     arena, the Bell Centre.

So what should you take from all this? When in Montreal, don’t fuck with the Habs, eh!

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~ by herodotuswept on March 4, 2009.

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