While it’s fun to make cheap jokes about Vancouver blaming the NHL for failing to control the rioters, Greg Wyshynski is way off the mark in his Puck Daddy post about the issue. Wyshynski made a bunch of statements that I believe are intended to make the reader say “Of course! These people are insane!” I just read them and said “Yeah, that doesn’t sound unreasonable.”
What the city is arguing here is that any entity that encourages masses of people to gather in the city — not directly, but by simply holding an event — should be responsible for that crowd’s action.
This seems sensible to me. The NHL and the Canucks are profiting off the operation of an event that creates the potential for massive crowds to gather as a result of the interest in the events that the NHL produces. The NHL benefits from the mass hysteria that the playoffs create in Canada – why should Canadian cities (or the insurance premium paying public) have to subsidize these events through the payment of increased police costs and insurance premiums?
Riot control is not the League’s problem, and the issue here is that Vancouver seeks to make it the League’s problem so the blame can be shared if this crap happens for a third time in the city during a Cup Final. “Hey, thanks for pumping millions of extra dollars into our local economy for three months … can you handle crowd control, too?”
The league creates the riot by holding the event. If I’m running a factory that dumps poisonous effluent into the river, do I get to say “Not my problem. I run the factory; government’s responsible for the rivers.” Maybe forty years ago. In most places, I don’t get to do it now – this is the polluter pays principle. What are riots but a different form of pollution?
Leaving aside that Wyshynski should know better – millions of extra dollars aren’t being pumped into the local economy but spending is simply being transferred from some business to another business (and, although it might feel that way, the playoffs don’t last for three months) – it seems to me that, in Canadian cities, riots have become a bit of an externality of playoff hockey. In what world do you get to run a business that routinely causes millions of dollars of damage and/or additional policing costs and not be faced with an expectation that you’ll pay for it? (Or, before the deluge of bitching about the oil industry starts, at least not without an angry group of people demanding that you bear the cost instead of the taxpayer?)
Actually, based on the city’s findings, there’s really only one sure way to prevent rioting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs: Not allowing Canadian teams to participate in them.
The report reads “four Stanley Cup riots in the last five years”; what it meant to say was Edmonton (2006), Montreal (2008), Montreal (2010) and Vancouver (2011). So yes, the NHL can take a very active role in preventing Stanley Cup rioting by not allowing Canadian cities to have nice things.
Glib. But the NHL sure likes that Canadian TV money (they use it to fund the
municipal extortion schemes franchises that they put in American cities that can’t support themselves) and Canadian TV rights would be worth a lot less if Canadian teams never made the playoffs. The Canucks played 14 home playoff games this season and probably generated at least $40MM in additional revenue as a result.
Most businesses don’t impose riots on the cities that host them. If they did, they likely wouldn’t be around for long. If the British Columbia legislature passed a law imposing civil liability on the Canucks and National Hockey League for any increased police costs or damage to property during Stanley Cup riots, the NHL might ask itself what it and its teams could do to prevent this sort of stuff and reduce the need for increased police.
One solution might be punishing teams in cities that have problems with a points deduction the following season. English football does something similar for teams that go into administration during the course of the season. UEFA, the governing body of European soccer, holds teams accountable for the conduct of their fans – Serbia was recently punished for out of control fans within a stadium. I’m not aware, off the top of my head, of teams being punished for the conduct of supporters outside of the stadium but if the conduct is related to the game – and Stanley Cup riots obviously are – I’m not sure why you wouldn’t hold the people profiting responsible for them.