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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.