When fans of the Vancouver Canucks rioted last night after their hockey team lost the Stanley Cup to the Boston Bruins, many Americans watching on television were shocked: Canadians riot? Really? Our neighbors to the North are famous for their politeness and their good humor, and the idea of them turning on each other is as foreign and oddly disconcerting as catching your grandmother giving the finger to the driver who rudely cut her off in traffic.
Many Americans feel like Jon Stewart, who once joked, “I’ve been to Canada, and I’ve always gotten the impression that I could take the country over in about two days.” Little did we ignorant Yanks know that trashing their own backyards following hockey games is a Canadian tradition, and Vancouver endured even greater violence after 1994’s Stanley Cup. Canadians may be embarrassed by the destructive behavior, but it could’ve been worse. Imagine if the Canucks had actually won. Back in 1993, after the Montreal Canadians clinched their 24th Stanley Cup, the city erupted in anarchy, leading to scores of arrests and nearly $3 million in damage. I’m not implying they cursed themselves, but since then, no Canadian team has reclaimed the Cup. Now in Canada, where hockey is king, that drought is really something to riot about.
If Canada is no longer our better-behaved cousin, where should Americans look for model public behavior? (After watching Bobby Fischer Against the World on HBO last week, I nominate the Icelandic.)