#TICH: May 1, 1982 – Canucks Fans Wave White Towels as Rally Cry

Roger Neilson gave birth to “Towel Power”. But it was the fans at the Pacific Coliseum that made it a Canucks tradition and his legacy.

It started in Game 2 vs the Chicago Blackhawks in late April, 1982.  The officiating was horrible and seemingly one-sided that night,  it enraged the Canucks bench.  It angered them so much assistant coach, Ron Smith, yelled out “We give up, we surrender, we give up!”  “Tiger” Williams suggested to throw sticks on the ice as a form of protest,  but Roger Neilson thought this would be more effective.

Roger Neilson and members of the Vancouver Canucks hung white towels on their sticks to protest the horrible officiating in Chicago.

Roger Neilson and members of the Vancouver Canucks hung white towels on their sticks to protest the horrible officiating in Chicago.

Putting a white towel atop the end of a hockey stick, Neilson raised the “white flag” as a form of mock surrender. That action had Neilson ejected from the game and the Canucks lost 4-1 but came home from Chicago with a split.  Neilson was then fined $1000 and the Canucks were fined $10,000. Neilson was criticized by referee Myers about his actions and was described as “bush league”. The NHL commented on how this was a disgrace to the playoffs. However the officials, other fans and the league reacted, it sparked a battle cry that no one expected from the Canucks’ fan base.

 

Some of the Canucks fans greeted the team at the airport waving white towels when they returned back to Vancouver. When Neilson and the team came home to the Pacific Coliseum on May 1, 1982, they were greeted with thousands of fans in the stands waving white towels.

What happened at the old Rink of Renfrew today back in 1982 started what we today call “Towel Power”.  Thousands of fans in the stands brought white towels as a rally cry for the Canucks to win the series and move on in the playoffs. The 1982 Canucks made it to the Stanley Cup final, but falling in only four games to the powerhouse, New York Islanders. It didn’t matter. A Vancouver Canucks tradition was born and it has been embraced for the last 33 years. Every playoff season, the Vancouver Canucks lay out “playoff towels” for fans to wave before each game. It’s a tradition we love and made our own and what a back-story it was to give it life.

Thanks Roger, you are forever remembered. Keep waving that towel!

Roger Neilsen statue outside of Rogers Arena on the plaza. Towel Power forever!

Roger Neilsen statue outside of Rogers Arena on the plaza. Towel Power forever

 This happened Today in Canucks’ History, May 1st, 1982.

@Aviewfromabroad

Pat Quinn: Hockey’s St. Patrick

When I headed towards Rogers Arena last night, my husband sent me a text cautioning me of what I might see when I entered the gate:

Keep your eyes peeled when you come in Gate 16. It was quite the rogues gallery when I came

As I was walking down Abbot Street  (now Pat Quinn Way) to my regular gate, Orland Kurtenbach and his wife walked by for the unveiling of the street sign on Abbot St. and Pacific Boulevard. As I came inside, I saw Kirk McLean talking with a few others. Usually, I don’t get phased by seeing McLean, he’s in and around the arena quite a bit during the regular season, but yesterday, it felt different. There was an energy the minute I set foot through the doors. As I waited for the elevator to take me to Level 5, I started recognizing more faces, and then I thought I saw Markus Naslund which made me do a double take and I wasn’t sure, but I was… Anyway, everyone was in great anticipation of the pre-game ceremony.

When I met up with my husband in our section, he told me of some of the people he saw gathered at Gate 16. He said, in a cluster, there was Brian Burke, George McPhee, Jim Robson and Bob Nicholson. Rogues, maybe, but hockey’s upper echelon, definitely. As we were having our pre-game dinner, I believe we both felt at a loss for words. All  we could do was smile just think of how much Pat Quinn meant to hockey and we in Vancouver were so fortunate to have felt his impact so profoundly.

Canucks President, Trevor Linden, bookends the new commemorative sign of Pat Quinn Way" with Vancouver mayor, Gregor Robertson during the unveiling, renaming ceremony. Photo Credit: NHL.com

Canucks President, Trevor Linden, bookends the new commemorative sign of Pat Quinn Way” with Vancouver mayor, Gregor Robertson during the unveiling, renaming ceremony. Photo Credit: NHL.com

The unveiled "Pat Quinn Way". Quinn meant so much to the Canucks and to the city of Vancouver, it was truly a fitting tribute.

The unveiled “Pat Quinn Way”. Quinn meant so much to the Canucks and to the city of Vancouver, it was truly a fitting tribute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 When the actual ceremony began, Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and legendary broadcaster, Jim Robson hosted the evening. It was respectful, memorable without being too long winded. It was perfect. Rick Ley, Bobby Clarke, Cliff Fletcher, Ron Toigo, Markus Naslund, Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden, Pavel Bure, Kirk McLean, Bob Nicholson and Orland Kurtebach all joined in for the on-ice ceremony. But it was the amazing entourage of people who weren’t shown publicly that astounded many. Washington Capitals GM, George McPhee, singer Michael Buble, Flames President- Brian Burke were amongst the many who gathered at Rogers Arena on that very special night.

Seeing people in the hockey world pay their respects to a man that meant so much to this game, to this city and especially to this team. Pat Quinn had an impact everywhere he want into hockey, but nowhere to the extent of Vancouver. I was still a young girl (11 or 12) when Pat Quinn took charge of the Vancouver Canucks, but I do remember the less than half full Pacific Coliseum before his arrival and how things changed when he put his stamp on the team. There was a culture, there was a vibe, there was respectability associated with the Canucks that lacked in previous regimes.

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Highlights of the Pat Quinn Ceremony

  • Seeing the array of team jerseys that was associated with Pat Quinn in the world of hockey. Even more so the people who wore them out as they were introduced to Rogers Arena.
  • The appropriateness of the St. Patrick’s Day to remember The Big Irishman.
  • Bagpipes and Mark Donnelly singing his rendition of “Irish Eyes Are Smiling” paid a wonderful musical tribute.
  • The combatants of the night, were the two NHL teams Quinn had the most success with as a head coach.
  • All the dignitaries throughout the night that went on-air with kind words to say about Pat.
  • Seeing his daughters and granddaughter with the ceremonial puck drop was a perfect way to end the ceremony.
  • The one that impacted me the most during the ceremony was seeing Bure, Linden and McLean together in their old “Skate Logo” jersey brought the crowd to a rousing cheer. Memories of a team from yesteryear brought many smiles and tears of joy to some present at the arena. Most significant part of that trio together was, as they were leaving the ice after the ceremony, Linden patted Bure on the back and shared what seemed like kinds words with the Russian Rocket. Two men, who have not always seen eye to eye, as teammates and people, put their differences aside for the night to remember Pat Quinn. That’s speaks volumes of how much Pat Quinn meant to people.

For those that missed the ceremony last night, or those who just want to see it again, here is the ceremony in its entirety.

 

@Aviewfromabroad

#TICH: Thomas Gradin 500th Point Milestone

Thomas Gradin is a huge reason I became a Canucks fan. I was six years old and when I saw him skate for the first time on that very rare TV appearance, I knew I was hooked. My family wasn’t all that big into hockey at the time, I  grew up watching a lot more football up to that point. Also, I was six, I just learned to write my name and here I am trying to figure out which hockey team I was going to cheer? It was 1981 and Gradin was the first player to ever possess such a high level of natural skill. He was a far cry from his linemates, Curt Fraser, and much more refined than Stan Smyl, with his hockey gifts. However, that rookie line worked out quite well together.

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Daniel Sedin (left) and Henrik Sedin (Right) were scouted by Thomas Gradin (centre) and convinced then GM, Brian Burke, to draft the twins second and third in the 1999 NHL entry draft.

Gradin was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1978 in the 3rd round, 45th overall. He came to play for the Canucks via a trading of his contract rights. Oddly enough, Gradin also was drafted into the WHA by the Winnipeg Jets in the 1st round, 9th overall.  He became one of the first Europeans to join the Canucks organization along with his fellow Swedes, Lars Zetterstrom and Lars Lindgren.  In his rookie year, Gradin scored 20 goals, 31 assists for 51 points. He shared the Cyclone Taylor award for Canucks MVP with goaltender, Glen Hanlon.

 On March 8th, 1985, Thomas Gradin scored his 500th NHL career point, becoming the first Canuck to reach that Milestone. The Canucks defeated the LA Kings that night, 4-3.

No. 23, Thomas Gradin, became the first Canuck to reach the 500 point plateau on March 8, 1985.

No. 23, Thomas Gradin, became the first Canuck to reach the 500 point plateau on March 8, 1985.

Gradin spent eight seasons with the Vancouver Canucks and one with the Boston Bruins before calling it a career in the NHL. He returned to Sweden to play in the SEL for another three years before retiring as a player. In 1994, Gradin came back to the Canucks organization as an amateur scout. Presently he is the Associated Head Scout, a role he has held since 2007.

Notable names Thomas Gradin has helped bring to the Canucks organization:

  • Matthias Ohlund
  • Daniel Sedin
  • Henrik Sedin
  • Alex Edler

On January 24, 2011, Gradin was inducted into the Canucks Ring of Honour. He ended his NHL careeer with 209 goals, 384 assists and 593 points. Fittingly enough, Gradin averaged just above 23 goals/year in his NHL career. Thanks Thomas, for validating my reason to become a Canucks fan way back when. You’ve helped mould that six year old’s sports passion and especially for the Canucks. 

That’s #TICH today, March 8, 1985.

@Aviewfromabroad

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Gradin seen here being inducted into the Canucks Ring of Honour in 2011

Dealing With A Season of Unexpected Success and Expected Failures

Last night was one of those games you wish you could forget, the first period of the game for sure, right? I’d like to forget the last four minutes of the third period as well, but let’s not touch on that at the moment. If you want to read a hard hitting analysis of Vancouver vs. San  Jose at Rogers Arena on March, 3, 2015, you’re not going to get it here. Right now, I want to talk to some of you about how to take the next few weeks without breaking your ankles when jumping on and off the bandwagon.

What I have been noticing a lot this season is after every win, many fans react with, “OMG this team is amazing! They are going to win it all!” or something to that effect. However, after every loss, many react with, ” Trade them all! Fire Benning and Linden! The Sedins are old as crap! Trade (insert player name here) for a bag of pucks or used jock-straps!”

Ladies and gentlemen, we all have those moments, but we all shouldn’t have ridiculous pendulum swings of emotions like that for 82 games in a season. It gets draining for you that are reacting this way, and it gets really annoying and redundant for us, your fellow fans, who see it. We look at you all like a bunch of fish flipping and flopping on dry ground without anything to ground you. You only stop all the erratic movement when you’re bludgeoned or tire yourselves out, you just lay there.

Canucks fans down when a loss occurs, but there is no need to put C4 to the team and see where the pieces land.

Canucks fans down when a loss occurs, but there is no need to throw C4 to the team and see where the pieces land.

So how do we deal with the ups and downs of our favourite NHL team? Well, it’s all about perspective and expectation. How do you measure success of the team? It’s different for all of us, but maybe I can share how I deal with the Canucks roller coaster ride as the season progresses. Here are a few questions and my answers to how respond to the highs and the lows of Canucks season, game to game.

Do the Canucks frustrate me? Yes, there isn’t a team in the universe that frustrates me more than the Vancouver Canucks. There isn’t a team in the world that has disappointed me more in the last 30 years than the Vancouver Canucks, but like that bad romance you cannot shake, no matter how hard you try, I cannot help but love them. It’s just the way of sports and for those that are passionate about it. You just have to find a middle point of elation and frustration.

 Are they…

  • Stanley Cup Contenders? No, my expectations are considerably low this season. This isn’t the 2010/2011 team. The talent level isn’t there. The experience isn’t as deep as it was back then either. This is also probably why they went the way of prospect pickups and minor league trades on Trade Deadline Day. Why spend the future on a push for the Cup that is highly unlikely to happen? Success would be getting into a playoff spot and winning a game or two. If they win a round, they’ve played beyond my expectations.
  • Rebuilding? No, they aren’t rebuilding. A major overhaul of player personnel would have to take place for that to happen. However, with all the NTC (limited or otherwise) handed out to a good chunk of the veterans on the team, it takes the full rebuild off the table. The Canucks have to work with what they have and find pieces to fill in the holes.

At the beginning of the season, what were your expectations? I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t sure how the Sedins would be playing, if any of our youngsters would make the team, and how the infusion of free agent veterans would mesh with the core. In all honesty, I saw this team not making the playoffs, but barely missing. Sitting in 9th place.

What are you expectations now?  At the 40 games played point, I figured the Canucks would make the playoffs but either in the 3rd spot in the division or a wild card berth. They would need to win just over half their remaining games to ensure that would happe. Barring a disaster like last season, I just don’t see the signs of the Canucks surrendering to more losses than wins, even with the patchwork line-up they are currently icing.

Individual games or body of work for the season are more important? You have to win individual games to make a body of work. We all want the team to win every game, but that’s not a possibility. So we have to look at the work that has been put in over the season so far.

  • The Canucks are scoring goals, they now have to work on preventing them.
  • Only Nashville has more regulation wins than the Canucks. Sure there are teams with more W’s in the win column but some of those are OT wins or shoot out wins, not in a 60 minute frame.
  • Two 34 year old twins are looking like their 29 year old selves.
  • The youngsters, Horvat and Kenins, are playing beyond any expectations we had of them.
  • Win or lose, for the most part this season, the Canucks are far more fun team to watch this season.
  • The culture  and vibe of a unit willing to try is showing more often than not and we are enjoying it. That says a lot about them.
  • Their ability to have comebacks this season are more likely than last. That alone is a huge improvement.

For the most part, they have exceeded my original expectations. I expected more of a struggle for the Wild Card spots, not 2nd place in the Pacific Division. I know there is a lot of hockey left, but with the return of some key players, mainly their defencemen, I see improvement, not failure. So instead of getting all wired about a certain play or a certain game, find a way to assess the overall scheme of things. Take a step back, take a deep breath and hold on to something. Let’s not fall off the wagon when the team hits a rough patch. Grab on to something and ride it out. In the end, you’re going to hit one place or the other, but why get stranded on your own if they exceed where you thought they’d be? Faith is a concept that’s not easily understood, but that’s part of being a sports fan. If you’re Canucks fan, you have to learn to have a little faith or you’d be just miserable. It could be worse, we could be cheering the Leafs or the Oilers.

@Aviewfromabroad

#TICH: Team Canada 2002 Gold, Salt Lake City

It was the first time in 50 years the Canadian Olympic team won Gold in hockey. A sport that is synonymous with the nation. It was today, February 24, 2002, Burnaby Joe and the rest of Team Canada could give this nation something to cheer for again in Olympic Men’s hockey.

Striking gold in Salt Lake City, Team Canada wins after 50 years of no hockey Olympic gold. Photo Credit: Hockey Canada

Striking gold in Salt Lake City, Team Canada wins after 50 years of no hockey Olympic gold. Photo Credit: Hockey Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know it’s not necessarily a “Canucks” historical moment but there was a member of the Vancouver Canucks  on the 2002 Gold winning Salt Lake City Team Canada roster. Let’s not forget  the winning coach, our legendary Canucks coach and GM, the late Pat Quinn. 

The late Pat Quinn, coached the 2002 Olympic team to gold. Former Canucks player, coach, GM and President. Photo credit: Toronto Sun

The late Pat Quinn, coached the 2002 Olympic team to gold. Former Canucks player, coach, GM and President. Photo credit: Toronto Sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Jovocop” made the Team Canada roster. Jovanovski was known as a free-wheeling, offensive defence-man. He also didn’t mind giving a few memorable hits here and there.  For Team Canada, Ed Jovanovski, assisted on the first Joe Sakic goal which ended up being the game winner. Team Canada defeated Team USA, 5-2 in Salt Lake City, Utah to win gold again, finally.

Ed "Jovocop" Jovanovski was a member of the 2002 Gold winning Olympic Men's hockey team. At the time he was the Canucks No.1 D-man. Photo credit: PowerLine Athletics

Ed “Jovocop” Jovanovski was a member of the 2002 Gold winning Olympic Men’s hockey team. At the time he was the Canucks No.1 D-man. Photo credit: PowerLine Athletics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s #TICH February 24, 2002.

@Aviewfromabroad

Here is a 10 minute highlight reel, called by Bob Cole on CBC of the game in Salt Lake City.