Skip to Main Content
The Official Site of the Vancouver Canucks

Roger Neilson statue unveiled in pre-game ceremony

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks

Vancouver, B.C. - Prior to the Vancouver Canucks game against the Minnesota Wild on April 7th, Canucks Sports & Entertainment was proud to unveil a bronze sculpture of Roger Neilson in an outdoor ceremony. The permanent statue, located outside of Gate 3 at the corner of Abbott Street and Expo Boulevard, immortalizes the origin of the Canucks longstanding “towel power” tradition as Roger Neilson is featured with a stick and white towel in hand.

“This statue doesn’t simply represent a moment in time but a legacy that Roger, the 1982 team and our fans helped to create,” said Mike Gillis, Vancouver Canucks President and General Manager. “The white towel, waved by Roger, is representative of a united front and a tradition that is unique to Canucks fans. Today it is emulated throughout sport worldwide. Having Roger and the celebration of the white towel recognized is a fitting way to not only usher us into the playoffs but to act as a permanent reminder of how our past has shaped who we are today.”

The statue of Neilson, standing at 136.5 inches tall, 7’4” at the widest spot across, and weighing 800 lbs, depicts Roger Neilson as he coached the Vancouver Canucks in the 1982 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Up 1-0 in the Campbell Conference Championship against the Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver aimed to take a two-game lead prior to returning home. After a series of seemingly unwarranted calls against his team, equating to four consecutive power plays for Chicago, Neilson started voicing his concern and claiming that the officiating was unbalanced. Despite his protests, the officiating didn’t seem to improve. Neilson’s reaction to his perception of poor officiating would become a beacon for future generations of Canucks fans.

In mock surrender, Neilson draped a white towel over a hockey stick, waving it back and forth from the bench. Members of the 1982 Canucks followed suit on the bench. The team returned home to a series tied a 1-1 and thousands of fans waving white towels, emulating Neilson’s bold move. The Canucks would go on to win the series and reach the Stanley Cup Final in 1982.

About the Artist
Local artist Norm Williams was commissioned to fashion the sculpture of Roger Neilson. Williams studied under well know sculptors Bill Reid, Bill Koochin and Leonard Epp. He completed a four year Sculpture Major at Emily Carr College of Art & Design, and graduated with a Double Fine Arts Major from the University of British Columbia. The focus of Norm’s sculpture is realism that portrays nature or historical events.

Williams has worked in private collections throughout North America, as well as England, Germany, Japan and China. Previous public pieces include, a bronze grouping at Steveston, BC. It was commissioned in 2009 to pay tribute to the area’s commercial fishing industry. Two other public commissions are in Abbotsford. He is currently working on a smaller piece for Terra Nova Park in Richmond, BC.

For more information on Norm Williams and his work, visit:

View More