For the first time in 28 years, the Montreal Canadiens have gotten a chance to play in the Stanley Cup final—and fans celebrated the news by beating the crap out of a cop car.
The underdog Canadiens are in the midst of a Cinderella story run towards the championship. They came into the playoffs with the worst record in the league—ranked 18th.
From coming back and beating the Toronto Maple Leafs in seven, to sweeping the Winnipeg Jets, to punching their ticket to the Stanley Cup final with a 3-2 overtime win over the Golden Knights on Thursday, it’s been quite the ride for Habs fans who were, unsurprisingly, jubilant.
And, as we all know, when sports fans get overly jubilant, things tend to get flipped and kicked.
While 3,500 fans were allowed in the Bell Centre arena in downtown Montreal Thursday for Game 6 against the Knights, the vast majority of fans watched the game from home, in bars, or at a large outdoor TV outside the Bell Centre. Artturi Lehkonen played hero as he potted the winning goal less than two minutes into overtime.
But soon after the cheering on the ice stopped, the cheering in the streets began and revellers amassed. The lucky few who were actually inside the Bell Centre for the game weren’t able to leave the building as the crowd outside was deemed too raucous.
Videos show fans shooting off fireworks, cheering, and marching in thrown-together parades. Police say they anticipated a rowdy crowd beforehand, so they had riot cops at the ready and deployed “a strong police presence throughout downtown.” According to local media, the cops and fans played a cat and mouse game as celebrations continually moved to the streets with fewer cops patrolling.
The most visceral image of the entire celebration (or riot, whatever you want to call it) was a cop car being flipped and getting vandalized. Videos show people rolling it, stomping in its windows, kicking it, throwing traffic cones at it, what have you.
Eventually, police moved in and deployed tear gas to disperse the crowd, who eventually relented and went home. According to the Montreal Gazette, eight police cars were damaged, two officers suffered minor injuries, and 15 people were arrested. Those arrested face charges including armed assault, assault, and obstructing the work of a police officer. An additional 60 more revellers received bylaw infractions.
In terms of how these things go, last night was relatively calm for the proud sports fans. A police spokesperson told La Presse that “most people behaved in an exemplary manner.” And at least they were rioting because they won, not because they lost.
Looking at you, Vancouver.
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.