Paoletti: Riots reveal larger problem


Paoletti: Riots reveal larger problem

By Mary Paoletti Staff Reporter Follow @mary_paoletti
My reaction to the riots in Vancouver might be atypical.

I thought about UConn.

When the University of Connecticut men's basketball team won the national title in 2004. I remember a monologue Jon Stewart did on the Daily Show that April.

"Iraq's exploding. There's rioting. Violent street scenes. I guess because of the U.S. occupation, but I just want to say this: There are very few circumstances that justify that kind of behavior. In fact, when I think about it, there's really only one. And that is, if the school that you attend wins six consecutive games in a single-elimination basketball tournament. That -- that -- is just cause."

Over Stewart's right shoulder a video played of the on-campus Championship mob scene. Students (students?) were piling on top of an overturned car.

"Your team has won a basketball game. Let there be destruction."

The studio audience laughed.

I knew people in Connecticut who didn't find it funny. In Storrs, 35 people were arrested in the aftermath, mostly for vandalism, others for breach of peace, inciting a riot and criminal trespassing. No serious injuries were reported. I remember a friend of mine -- a student at the time -- told me how he and a few other buddies tried to rip a tree out of the ground.

This is where my mind was as the destruction following the Canucks' Stanley Cup final loss to the Bruins escalated.

There are obvious differences between the Connecticut and Vancouver scenes: winners versus losers, degree of injurious violence. But the relative scale of Canada's mayhem is stunning. Close to 100 arrests were made in Vancouver and almost 150 people needed medical care overnight, including three stabbing victims and one man in critical condition with head injuries.

The downtown area was ravaged in a 10-block radius. Stores were looted, windows were shattered. As in Connecticut, cars burned (15, two police cruisers), stores in shambles and windows shattered over a 10-block radius from the citys main shopping district. Nine of the injured were police officers and one needed 14 stitches.

Even spectators played a role. Police tried to send those photographing and videoing the scene away, but they stayed on, each photo feeding the histrionic needs of troublemakers. Why do it if nobody is watching?

Vancouverriots became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter. Perfect for my generation of attention whores with flashbulb attention spans.

A quick Google search reveals how the evolution of technology was born of, and now feeds, the addiction. Facebook was launched in February, 2004; Twitter in July of 2006. As of March of 2011, 200 million people are on Twitter; over 600 million are on Facebook. More than 3,000 photos uploaded per minute to Flickr and over 2 billion YouTube videos are watched per day.

Exposure through social media is instantaneous and unlimited. Look at me. Look what I did. Look at me!

Thankfully, these outlets might also help the hand of justice.

Vancouver police are using Facebook pages and blogs, like, to get help with identifying rioters. I remember UConn officials doing something similar. Photos of unruly students were posted to the Dean of Student's web site along with a plea for the accompanying names. After a week, six interim suspensions were made and close to 30 disciplinary hearings were held.

Another similarity was unnerving.

These riots -- big or small, post-win or post-loss -- don't have much to do with sports. In an ESPN story, Vancouver police chief Jim Chu said officers recognized some in the mob as people who incited trouble after the 2010 Olympics opened.

These were people who came equipped with masks, goggles and gasoline. They had a plan," Chu said.

They aren't hockey fans, they're opportunists. They are keenly aware of the cameras and the perfect circumstance for infamy. There was no unified crew head-hunting Bruins fans in harmonious vengeance, it was one idiot kid in a Kesler jersey fighting another idiot kid in a Sedin jersey.

Those who love the NHL stayed in Rogers Arena to boo Bettman and cheer a brilliant Conn Smythe winner. The Nielsen Company reported Game 7 was watched by 8.54 million people, making it the most-watched NHL game in almost four decades. And it made sense. The 2011 Stanley Cup finals lacked for nothing. There were upsets, blowouts, comebacks and heartbreaks. The title game was a huge win not just for Boston but for hockey.

Vanouver's criminals sullied the celebration.

It's the irrationality that terrifies me -- chaos for the sake of chaos -- as well as its enduring presence in time: 10-Cent Beer Night in Cleveland, 1974; Montreal's Stanley Cup melee of 1986; seven die when Detroit wins its first NBA title, 1990; 2M in damages after Denver wins the 1998 Super Bowl; Red Sox riots in 2004 and 2007. Take that list and lengthen it, fill out the middle, then add an ellipses to the end.

We've not seen the last rage of this kind of fire. For sports fans, NCAA basketball championships and Stanley Cup finals are to be remembered forever, turned over in our minds with care and cherished. The sad thing is that those with more sinister motivations have the ability to truly make these events memorable. For all the wrong reasons.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Spooner responds positively to healthy scratch


Spooner responds positively to healthy scratch

BOSTON -- It wasn’t perfect by any means, but Saturday night represented a step in a positive direction for Ryan Spooner.

The 24-year-old speedy forward was scratched for the home opener against New Jersey in classic message-sending fashion by Bruins coach Claude Julien, and deserved it based on a passive lack of production combined with some costly mistakes as well. So he stayed quiet, put in the work and then returned to the lineup Saturday vs. the Montreal Canadiens where he scored a power play goal in the 4-2 loss to the Habs at TD Garden.

“He was better,” agreed Claude Julien. “He was better tonight.”

Spooner could have had even more as he got a couple of great scoring chances in the first period vs. Montreal, but Carey Price was able to turn away a couple of free looks at the Montreal net. So the Bruins forward felt he possibly left points on the ice after it was all said and done, but also clearly played his best game of the young season after going from the press box back to the lineup.

“Yeah, I had like maybe four or five [chances] that I could have scored on,” said Spooner. “I’ve just got to bear down on those [scoring opportunities], and a lot [of them] in the first period. It’s good that I’m getting those looks, but I have to score on them.

“I’m just going to go out there and just try to play. I can’t really think about [fighting to hold a spot]. I’ve just got to go out there and try to play, I guess, the game I can and try to use the speed that I have.”

The Spooner power play strike was a nifty one with the shifty forward and David Backes connecting on a pass across the front of the net, and the young B’s forward showing the necessary assertiveness cutting to the net from his half-wall position.

Spooner had five shot attempts overall in the game, and was one of the few Bruins players really getting the chances they wanted against a pretty effective Montreal defensive group. Now it’s a matter of Spooner, along with linemates Backes and David Krejci, scoring during 5-on-5 play and giving the Bruins a little more offensive balance after riding Boston’s top line very hard during the regular season’s first couple of weeks. 

Sunday, Oct. 23: Hall fitting in with Devils


Sunday, Oct. 23: Hall fitting in with Devils

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while waiting to find out which Walking Dead character got brained by Lucille in last season’s cliffhanger. I’m going with Abraham.

*The SI roundtable talks about the future of Jacob Trouba, and where he’ll end up going when his current situation resolves itself.

*P.K. Subban is apparently getting very comfortable in Nashville, and enjoying life in a city with NFL football.

*Fun conversation between Yahoo’s Josh Cooper and Brad Marchand about a whole range of random topics.

*A cool father-son story where they became the goaltending tandem for the Ontario Reign through a series of dominoes falling after Jonathan Quick went down with injury for the Los Angeles Kings.

*Pro Hockey Talk has Taylor Hall serving as exactly what the New Jersey Devils have needed for the last couple of years.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dan Shaughnessy says that the MLB playoffs couldn’t have played out any worse for the Boston Red Sox.