April 22 2008 01:07PM
What the sweet tap dancing baby Jesus got into Montreal last night? Sixteen people arrested, 12 police cars burned and a Foot Locker—A FOOT LOCKER—looted.
Good lord people, it’s only the first round! What has Montreal turned into? Out here in E-town we don’t loot a Foot Locker when the Oilers win. We riot for a reason here in the OilersNation. We might smash the front window of an organic soap store on Whyte Ave, but at least the Oilers had advanced to the conference finals. Whyte Ave might have looked like Downtown Grozny during the finals with riot police standing shoulder to shoulder, but that was the FINALS! You have to riot in the finals! Right? RIGHT?
Montrealers used to riot for a reason too, lambs. It was 53 years, one month and four days ago that the infamous Richard Riot went down in Montreal. Now THAT was a riot. Not these namby pamby skirmishes that pass for a riot in Montreal these days. Come in out of the blizzard of ’08 and let your old Uncle Wanye tell you a story about how we used to riot in our day, when things made sense and cops would give you a crack on the skull if they caught you, not fire tear gas in your face.
In the stretch run of 1955, Maurice Richard was high-sticked by something called a Hal Laycoe during a Montreal powerplay. The ref signaled for a penalty, but the play continued. Richard had the good sense to skate up to Laycoe and smash him in the face and shoulders with his stick.
You see, these were the days long before players got the idea to sue one another off the ice when they were attacked. These were also the days before good hard-working Canadian politicians, lawyers and police officers tried to monitor the game from in the stands.
So Richard smashes Laycoe and when the law on the ice tried to restrain him, he repeatedly broke away from the linesmen to attack Laycoe, eventually breaking his stick over his back. Linesman Cliff Thompson then attempted to restrain Richard, who promptly broke loose and punched Thompson twice in the face, knocking him unconscious.
Richard later said at a league hearing that he thought Thompson was one of Boston's players. That’s a fair mistake to make, isn’t it? Referees bear more than a passing resemblance to Bruins, especially in the days when NHL arenas were lit by candles and warmed by the holier-than-thou attitude of Montreal fans. NHL President Clarence Campbell took the obviously unfair position of trying to discipline one of the leagues biggest stars, suspending him for the remainder of the season and the playoffs.
This is when Montreal went bananas.
Radio call-in shows blew up with Montrealers going crazy and wanting the suspension repealed. Campbell refused, and also announced that he would be defiantly attending the Habs' next home game against the Red Wings.
Security was tighter than an Al-Qaeda poker night and when Campbell arrived at the game, fashionably late outraged Canadiens fans let him taste the sweet sting of dozens of eggs, vegetables, and other associated debris, which came in greater frequency as the Wings ultimately built a 4–1 lead.
The continuous stream of various objects being thrown at Campbell stopped only when a tear gas bomb was set off inside the Forum, not far from where Campbell was sitting. The building was evacuated and the game was awarded to the Red Wings, and put Detroit in first place in the league.
This is when Montreal went really bananas.
Fans leaving the game—probably the grandparents of the morons rioting in the street the previous night—set the gold standard of how to riot after a hockey game in Montreal.
The chaos outside the Forum caused $500,000 in damage to the neighbourhood and the Forum itself. Hundreds of stores were looted and vandalized in a 15 block radius, injuring 12 policemen and 25 civilians. The riot continued well into the night, with police arresting people by the truckload. Local radio stations, which had been carrying live coverage of the riot for over seven hours, had to be forced off the air. The riot eventually ended in the early hours of the morning and left Montreal's Ste Catherine’s Street in shambles.
See, lambs? That’s how you riot, if you really must. Loot hundreds of stores, not ten. Get arrested by the hundreds—not by the almost-two-dozen. And force your hometown to question itself at its very core, as it awakes to the smoking remains of its most vibrant strip of stores, bars and restaurants.
For heavens sake, don’t half ass it.