Things change over time and that’s the case with the Vancouver Canucks towel power tradition.
A quick history lesson:
With the Canucks trailing the Chicago Black Hawks 4-1 in Game 2 of the 1982 Western Conference Final, Vancouver coach Roger Neilson couldn’t take any more of referee Bob Myers and his questionable officiating.
The Canucks were being assessed penalties left, right and centre, leaving Neilson and the Vancouver bench up in arms. In protest, troublemaker Tiger Williams suggested to Neilson that he throw sticks on the ice, but Neilson, having already tried that, had a better idea. He surrendered.
Neilson grabbed a white towel and placed it on the end of Jim Nill’s stick to signify a surrender flag and he held it high for all to see. Stan Smyl, Gerry Minor, Williams and others joined in as the Canucks symbolically voiced their displeasure with Myers’ work.
Neilson was escorted off the ice after the stunt and he received a hefty fine for his actions, but the damage had already been done with Canucks fans in a frenzy.
When the Canucks returned to Vancouver for Game 3, it was clear a tradition had been born as fans waved a blizzard of white towels in support of their beloved Canucks.
Fast-forward to today and while the meaning of the white towel changed long ago, towel power remains alive and well. Plenty of copycats have popped up over the years all over professional sports, but towel power began in Vancouver and during Game 2 last Friday night, Canucks fans were as loud and proud as ever. The result on the ice was fitting.
Sunday night in Calgary, it’ll be a different story.
The “C of Red” will be in full effect and having not seen playoff hockey since April 27, 2009 – a span of 5 years, 11 months, 23 days, 52,392 hours, 3,143,520 minutes and 188,611,200 seconds – the Scotiabank Saddledome will be rocking.
Thanks to the Canucks training and equipment staff, there will be towels waving tonight as well.
A box of 400 Canucks playoff towels is in Calgary and I’ll personally be handing out 200 prior to the game. Come to the seats near Vancouver’s bench and tunnel, 7 p.m. and be in Canucks gear to get one. Ditto for Game 4 Tuesday.
Wave that towel like never before and if a Flames fan brings up the fact that our tradition began in surrender, just remind them things change over time – Calgary is back in the playoffs, after all.
Tag your towel photos with #TowelPower to share with other Canucks fans!
Derek Jory (@NoJoryous)