The white towel game is one of the most infamous moments in Vancouver Canucks history.
It came during game two of the club’s conference finals series against the Chicago Blackhawks, and it happened today in 1982.
Game one of the series saw Vancouver snag a 2-1 double-overtime win, but the club fell behind in game two 3-1.
As the game wore on, Canucks head coach Roger Neilson became growingly frustrated by what was felt to be some questionable calls.
Vancouver had a goal disallowed, followed by a perceived non-call against Chicago which, in turn, was followed by a fourth consecutive penalty against the Canucks.
Denis Savard scored to put the Blackhawks up 4-1, and what followed changed playoff hockey forever.
Instead of throwing sticks on the ice as enforcer Tiger Williams suggested, Neilson had a better idea — he surrendered. He grabbed a white towel, threw it on the edge of a stick, and waved it.
Stan Smyl, Gerry Minor, Williams and others joined doing the same and Nielson was escorted off the ice out kicked out of the game given a hefty fine to boot.
When game three kicked off in Vancouver, fans waved a blizzard of white towels in support of their Canucks.
“When that went down, Myers was calling tons of penalties and they were suspect calls,” recalled Canucks goaltender Richard Brodeur. “It got really bad in the third and Roger was pissed off. Then I looked over and I saw the towel come up and I thought, ‘what the hell is he doing there?’ Then I thought ‘oh yeah, that’s cool, I like that.’ Then the other guys put the towels up and everyone was doing it.
“We lost that game, but in the room afterwards it was like we won the game, the atmosphere was so positive, we were laughing about it a lot. We knew what Roger did there, there was a message to send and he did.”
Vancouver came back in the series-winning games three, four and five to advance to the finals against the New York Islanders, who the Canucks lost to.
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OTD in 1982 – The “White Towel” Game#Blackhawks beat the #Canucks 4-1 in Game 2 of the conference finals at Chicago Stadium, Vancouver coach Roger Neilson ejected in the third period. (April 29, 1982) @VintageCanucks pic.twitter.com/wTHeRrl1j8
— Vintage Hawks (@VintageHawks) April 29, 2020