"I had no idea what I was starting." ~ Roger Neilson (June 16, 1934 - June 21, 2003)
It all started in Québec City on March 18, 1982. The Canucks and Nordiques were in a tight game and not surprisingly, Tiger Williams planted an opponent into the glass. A brawl broke out at the Canucks bench and a fan reached around the glass and poked Tiger in the face. In return, Canucks Head Coach Harry Neale went to help Tiger and poked the fan in face. Neale was suspended for 10 games.
Assistant Coach Roger Neilson took over the team. Surprising everyone, the Canucks didn’t lose another game, earning an improbable playoff spot. Harry Neale was so impressed he let Neilson keep coaching.
In the playoffs, the Canucks cut right through the Flames and Kings, losing only a single game. But in Game 2 against the Blackhawks, the Canucks went down 4-1 and the team was given five straight penalties. Tiger suggested throwing their sticks on the ice but Neilson said "I’ve done that… let’s surrender." He raised a stick, put a white towel on top, and waved it back and forth. Three other players joined and all four were promptly kicked out.
When the Canucks returned to Vancouver for Game 3, Neilson was shocked to see the fans – all around the Pacific Coliseum – waving their towels.
"Towel Power" was born. A timeless Canucks playoff tradition, it has been copied across the National Hockey League ever since.