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Archives: Roger Neilson launches Towel Power

This day in Vancouver history: April 29, 1982

With the Vancouver Canucks down 4-1 to the Blackhawks in a dubiously officiated Game 2 of the 1982 Western Conference Final in Chicago, interim coach Roger Neilson put a towel on the end of a hockey stick to symbolize a white flag and hoisted it in the air in mock surrender after a power play goal created from a contentious penalty handed out by referee Bob Myers.

Two players did the same and all three were ejected from the game. The NHL later fined the team $10,000 and Neilson another $1,000 for "disgracing the championship series."

When the team returned to Pacific Coliseum for Game 3, the stands were packed with fans waving white towels in support and a new Vancouver tradition was born. The Canucks went on to win the next three games to take the series and made it to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in franchise history.

More than 30 years later, fans still use “towel power” to help pump up the Canucks on home ice, and head office now supplies 20,000 free towels with the team’s logo for each home playoff game. A statue of Neilson hoisting a towel has even been installed outside Rogers Arena commemorating the event.