I have to premise this by saying that I am an avid student of politics, and that I come at this from an academic perspecitve.
What gets me is that in this case the witnesses to the event were the event. If you look at the footage, you see a very few - all male - assholes burning and breaking stuff, and 10,000 other people with cell phone cameras and live Twitter/Facebook feeds. I agree that there is a line between audience and accomplice. At some point - earlier rather than later - you need to realise that holding a cell phone camera does not make you immune to the demands to vacate the area. Pepper spray in the eyes really sucks, but that is what happens when you don't think.
What also gets me is that this kind of thing is right below the surface. Even in Vancouver, which is probably one of the most mellow places I've ever lived. I've seen similar things in Boston when the Red Sox WON, in LA when Rodney King LOST, in Montreal (and Seattle, and all over Europe, Asia, Latin America and pretty much everywhere else) when the G8/G20 SHOWS UP. My question is to what extent is hockey just an excuse? Is this kind of thing indicative of a larger social tension that lies just under the surface? Is this JUST a comment on Vancouver and hockey, or a much larger and much more widespread problem? Of course these are much bigger questions, and it is far easier to just say that it is all hockey and all Vancouver, but we are missing something if we do this.
Ask why is it that it is always cop cars, retail stores and banks that get smashed?