The Dog's Ear T-Shirt and Embroidery Co  

Roger Nielson raised the first white towel, but Butts Giraud filled the stands with them

By Curtis Staples
The Province


Towel Power Unleashed
Photo by Gerry Kahrmann,
The Province

Wednesday, May 07, 2003
While Canucks fans continue to brandish white towels during home games 21 years after coach Roger Nielsen started the trend, it was T-shirt shop owner Butts Giraud who first put towels in the hands of fans during Vancouver's 1982 playoff run.

Roger Neilson held up a white towel at a Vancouver Canucks playoff game in Chicago in 1982, and two nights later there was a sea of white towels waving at the Canucks home game in Vancouver.

How did this happen?

Well, the ex-Canucks coach is correctly credited with sparking the white-towel phenomenon, but someone else really got the towel-power inferno burning.

His name is Butts Giraud.

In the early 1980s, Butts had T-shirt stores all over the Lower Mainland called the Dog's Ear T-Shirt Boutiques.? When he saw Neilson raise that white towel in Chicago, Butts -- ever the consummate promoter -- saw the potential for a huge sports tradition, not to mention?a killer promotion opportunity for his stores.

I know this because I was handling promotions for a local radio station at the time, and the day after that fateful game at Chicago, I got a frantic call from Butts. At the time, his stores did all our T-shirts for giveaways.

It was early in the morning and Butts was beside himself with excitement. He told me he was going to find as many white towels as he could and was going to silkscreen sponsors' names (and his own company logo, of course) all over them. Then he was going to distribute them outside the Pacific Coliseum the following night at the Canucks' next game against the Blackhawks.

" This is going to be as big as the wave," he told me then.

In the end, he managed to acquire and silkscreen about 5,000 white towels in less than 36 hours. Only Giraud could pull that off.

When the Canucks came home from Chicago to play, he personally stood in front of the Pacific Coliseum with bag loads of towels, his big voice booming over the noise of the fans arriving for the game.

At subsequent games, Butts continued to sell the towels -- with a large part of the proceeds going to charity -- and fans brought their own towels from home.

A few games later there were 15,000 white towels waving at Canucks games.?The Blackhawks didn't stand a chance.

Roger Neilson provided the spark, the inspiration.

But it was Butts Giraud who put thousands of towels into the hands of eager Canucks fans.

Without his vision and tenacity, there would not have been a sea of white at that pivotal game in Vancouver. Without Butts Giraud, a great Vancouver sports tradition might never have caught fire.

Curtis Staples, Delta
© Copyright 2003 The Province

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