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The Green Men, those spandex-wearing nuts who root for the Vancouver Canucks, are really flattered by all the attention these days. Not only were kids dressing up like them at Halloween, but their popularity has created a recent ripple of copycats.
Kevan Mah, 25, is a Vancouver native now living in San Jose, Calif. He purchased a suit similar to what the Green Men wear, along with tickets for Games 3 and 4 of the NHL's Western Conference finals this weekend in San Jose. Mah plans to be there to honor his idols.
"They're huge," Mah said of the Green Men, who try to distract opposing players in the penalty box while entertaining the crowd with their antics during Canucks games at Rogers Arena. "Everybody I know loves the Green Men."
The real Green Men, who prefer to go by the nicknames "Sully" and "Force," insist they don't have a problem with others dressing up like them. After all, they stole the idea more than a year ago from a character in an episode of the TV show "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."
The Green Men just want to make sure nobody gives them a bad name as some imposters did by dancing around a busy highway in Vancouver.
"They tied up traffic," Sully said. "People thought it was us. We got a lot of flak for that."
Mah alerted Sully and Force of his plans on the Green Men's Facebook page, which has around 116,000 followers.
|The Green Men, aka Sully and Force, love to taunt opposing players in the penalty box.|
"He said he's not going to try to be us, he's just going to continue the Green Men tradition," Force said.
Some San Jose fans intend to imitate them in a different form. They have started their own Facebook page called "The Teal Men" and claim they're going to be at the HP Pavilion on Friday night, sitting next to the Vancouver bench and wearing spandex suits in the Sharks' teal color.
"I'm totally cool with it," Sully said. "If people want to throw on the suits and have a good time and get the fans riled up, that's what it's all about. All the power to them."
Sully and Force, both of whom received journalism degrees in the last year, never dreamed they would become such a phenomenon.
They originally planned to wear the tight-fitting, revealing suits, which cover their faces and entire bodies, to a Seattle Seahawks' NFL game as a one-time prank.
But one of the suits didn't arrive in time and they ended up debuting at a Canucks game instead. It was Dec. 23, 2009. Sully got the seats next to the visitors' penalty box from a roofing company where he used to work.
The reaction they received from the fans that night surpassed anything they ever imagined.
"It just kind of blew up," Sully said.
"I can't believe it's lasted this long," Force said. "I think we're at 14 minutes and 59 seconds of our 15 minutes of fame."
The Green Men have shown some creativity by changing up their routine each time. Unfortunately, one of the highlights -- Sully's handstands against the glass of the penalty box -- was eliminated a couple of weeks ago because of the NHL's liability concerns. The Green Men were also informed that the league no longer wants them touching the glass at any time.
It has slowed them down a little, but it hasn't stopped the shenanigans. Sully and Force make signs and use other props to keep the crowd begging for more.
They made a cut-out photo of music star Carrie Underwood wearing a Canucks jersey during the last round of the playoffs against the Nashville Predators. Underwood's husband, Mike Fisher, plays for the Predators.
In the opening round against Chicago, they had a cut-out photo of actor and avid Chicago fan Vince Vaughn wearing the Vancouver jersey. Sully and Force also wore shirts that read: "Fred Claus sucked," a reference to the "Fred Claus" movie in which Vaughn starred.
For Game 1 of this series against the Sharks, the Green Men tossed pieces of fried food into the air out of a bucket marked, "Kentucky Fried Sharks."
San Jose defenseman Douglas Murray said, "They're hilarious."
The Green Men don't appear at every Canucks home game. They, wisely, didn't want their act to get stale during the regular season, and they can't afford the playoff ticket prices every time.
They were not at Game 2 Wednesday, but they plan to be there if there's a Game 5 on Tuesday.
For superstitious reasons, their suits haven't been washed since the playoffs started. It's created an obvious problem, especially since a recent charity appearance at a McDonald's.
"We were in the back by the deep fryers," Sully said. "Now my suit absolutely reeks of Big Mac and Filet of Fish. Any chance I can get to hop out of that suit, I'm taking it."
If the Canucks win the Stanley Cup, Sully and Force are considering hanging up the Green Men suits for good.
"We'll retire them," Force said. "I think that would be the best way to go out."