|Vancouver Canucks fans turned violent after their team's Stanley Cup loss to the Boston Bruins [Reuters]
Thousands of people have run wild in Vancouver after the Canucks' 4-0 loss to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals, setting cars and garbage cans ablaze, looting shops and smashing windows.
Riot police fired tear gas to control the mayhem on Wednesday in the Canadian city's downtown, where many fans hoped to celebrate the Canucks' first NHL Stanley Cup playoff victory.
Looters were seen grabbing everything off the shelves of the Bay department store, from cosmetics and T-shirts to mannequin parts.
Many vehicles including police cars were burning on the streets, most of them having already been overturned with windows smashed.
Several people had been treated for stab wounds and many more for exposure to tear gas or pepper spray, hospital officials said.
The police did not release any information on how many people had been arrested.
Wednesday's violence brought back memories of a riot that erupted when Vancouver also lost the Stanley Cup in 1994 as groups of mostly young men threw bottles, attacked parked cars and smashed store windows.
"There was a group of people fully intending to make this into a 1994 event," Gregor Robertson, the Vancouver mayor said, adding that a group of "angry young men" had decided to disrupt an otherwise peaceful event.
Robertson called the chaos "absolutely disgraceful and shameful."
"We have had an extraordinary run in the playoff, great celebration. What's happened tonight is despicable," he said.
Henrik Sedin, captain of the Canucks, expressed disappointment at the rioting.
"It's terrible. This city and province has a lot to be proud of, the team we have and the guys we have in here. It's too bad," Sedin said.
The crowd thinned by early Thursday morning but some continued to try to destroy property as police in riot gear attempted to contain them in a small area of downtown.
The scenes were in sharp contrast to those after the 2010 Winter Olympics, when a massive street party erupted in the same area after Canada beat the United States to win the men's ice hockey gold medal.
Mayor Robertson did not think the violence would destroy the favourable international image the Pacific coast city had built in hosting the Games.
"I think people will understand that this is a small group of troublemakers who have trashed our party," he said.