The last time Habs fans showed a distinct lack of class, by booing the U.S. national anthem at the Bell Centre (news reports suggest in 2003, but I think there was an incident more recent), the media took notice and showed its disgust. Letters to the editor were written, and the next time the Bell Centre hosted a U.S. team, the crowd cheered loudly as the Star Spangled Banner was played. It was a bit corny, but it got the message across that we were sorry, and most of us were better than that.
Expect a similar kind of overreaction tonight as the Canadiens host the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinal tonight, from the police who will no doubt be present in higher numbers; from the media who will actually be present this time (besides just RadCan and TVA/LCN); and from the fans who won’t stand and cheer “Go Habs Go” as police cars are burned.
So don’t expect any riots tonight, win or lose. Just a lot of respectful cheering. (What police will do about moving violations and dangerous-but-only-to-you stupidity like running up and down on the roof of a moving bus is another question)
But in the unlikely event that things do get out of hand again, a few pointers:
- Don’t even consider the prospect of vigilante justice. You’re just going to get yourself seriously hurt. You might even start a massive drunken brawl that will result in serious injuries for dozens of people.
- Don’t go up to vandals and take pictures of their faces to show the cops later. Even in their drunken state, they’ll realize what you’re doing and attack you.
- If you see vandalism and/or violence taking place, don’t stand there and take pictures, go to the nearest police officer and tell him/her what’s going on. Then leave the area so you don’t become part of the problem.
- Have respect for the authorities. I’m sure most of them would love to be sitting at home or at a bar cheering on their team, but instead they have to miss the game and refrain from celebrating because a few drunken idiots can’t exercise some self-control.
- Clean up after yourselves. And clean up after others. Litter is bad, and it makes us look bad.