On a Monday night last January, during a road trip to Toronto, Carolina Hurricanes forward Brad Malone went on a quest for a towel. To be clear, Malone wasn’t looking for just any ordinary locker room rag to clean away sweat. He wanted the iconic towel that is recognizable to every Canadian hockey fan. The one emblazoned with the broadcast’s logo and draped around the necks of interviewees at intermission. He wanted the white Hockey Night in Canada towel. “He said he was going after it,” teammate Jeff Skinner says.
This was a bold mission. Interviews, and therefore towels, usually went to standouts from the previous period. Malone, on the other hand, had scored only his second goal of the season two nights prior in Ottawa. The fourth-liner was, in fact, among the more unlikely candidates for getting a towel, until he punched back a juicy rebound and raised his fist in celebration, maybe even to signal for his reward.
“He doesn’t score that often,” Skinner says, setting up the gut punch. “Then someone else ended up getting the towel.”
At the time, Skinner wasn't well-versed in the towel’s tradition, but Malone’s plight lingered with the Toronto native. So when the Hurricanes later hosted the rare Hockey Night in Canada game in Raleigh and Skinner got a towel himself, he gifted it to Malone. “That’s when I learned about the towel and the significance,” Skinner says. “He earned it. He got robbed.”
It just wasn’t the same.