June 2, 2011 at 9:19 AM

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The morning after

Posted by Danny O'Neil


Thousands of people crammed into one block on Granville Street in Vancouver to watch the game.

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- My ears were ringing.

This struck me as odd only in retrospect.

After all, I wasn't actually in Rogers Arena when Raffi Torres scored his game-winning goal in Game 1. I was a good eight blocks away, standing in the middle of Granville, usually a central thoroughfare in downtown Vancouver. And when Torres scored, the people around me erupted. They high-fived friends, they hugged strangers and they celebrated like only people serving witness to a shared triumph can.

And for at least an hour, that celebration raged all along Granville Street. People left, but they were replaced by those coming from the game, invigorated by the triumph and wanting to share.

Of course, the celebration tended to get louder when cameras were trained on fans. Revelers are nothing if not hams, but two things struck me:

   a) The absolute blissful naivete of it all.
It was as pure and untainted as a fresh snowfall. The fans chanted things like, "We want the cup!" Or it was "Win the cup! Or the tried and true, "Go Canucks Go!"

It was just so polite. I didn't see a single fight in the midst of that celebration, and the only policing of the crowd I witnessed was when an officer requested that a young woman get down off the shoulders of her male companion as they walked down the street.

There weren't bottles being passed around. In fact, there were signs saying, "No alcohol allowed" in the part of Granville that was closed, and while I'm not ignorant enough to think that kept everyone from bringing booze into the area, this wasn't some drunken revelry.

   b) The sheer diversity of the crowd.
That's not surprising considering the demographics of Vancouver in general, and I don't know if in this day and age it qualifies as remarkable to see people across so many diverse ethnic groups celebrating side by side, but I can tell you that I found it very uplifting.

I was an observer in this crowd. I felt the excitement of that goal pulse around me, but I didn't really share in it. I'm not enough of a true hockey fan to know just how incredible it is to have a game in the Stanley Cup finals knotted at 0-0 deep into third period only to be decided by a goal with 18 seconds left. And I'm not enough of a Canucks fan to truly know how long they've thirsted for the Stanley Cup in this city.

But anyone with eyes could see just what that moment did for this city, and I was grateful to have a front-row seat even if I wasn't in the arena itself.

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