If you’re a hockey enthusiast, chances are you’ve heard of the Green Men, some of the funniest and most notorious fans to ever grace the National Hockey League.
They’re instantly recognizable. How could they not be, when they’re dressed head to toe in shiny green spandex? We are of course talking about the Green Men (codenames: Force and Sully), the two clownish Vancouver Canucks fans and Canada gambling news mainstays that were commonly found tormenting players by the opposing team’s penalty box at the Rogers Arena.
But where did they come from? What did they do? And where did they go? GamingZion answers all these questions and more in our exposé on two of the most devoted fans the NHL has ever seen.
Where did the Green Men come from?
The goofy Green Men had gotten inspiration for their infamous uniforms from a Season 3 episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, in which character Charlie Kelly wore a similar suit. They had originally intended to wear their suits to an NFL game in Seattle, but, as if by a stroke of fate, the suits failed to arrive in time.
The pair decided to wear them to an NHL game instead, after they managed to score their now trademark penalty box seats from the owner of a roofing company that Sully used to work for.
And so, on 22 December 2009, during a Canucks versus Nashville Predators game, history was made. From that day onwards, they were regularly spotted by the ice, taunting penalized players by doing hand-stands against the glass, waving around clever signs, dancing, and butt flossing with the jerseys of opposing teams.
Rise to fame
After their initial appearance proved wildly popular with fans of hockey and internet betting, the anonymous Green Men continued to attend games in their full body costumes. Initially receiving free tickets from the aforementioned roofing company owner, they eventually began buying their own tickets to home and away games.
The duo’s talent for crowd entertainment was unparalleled. From 2009 until 2015 they performed crazy stunts to the amusement of NHL fans and to the horror of whoever was unfortunate enough to get stuck in the penalty box. While their highlights are many, some more memorable acts of theirs include: throwing frozen waffles when Vancouver was playing against the Toronto Maple Leafs; a magic show with Sophie Tweed-Simmons, daughter of Gene Simmons; and antagonizing Mike Fisher with a cardboard cutout of his wife Carrie Underwood wearing a Canucks jersey.
The Canucks and the city of Vancouver eventually adopted the mischievous Green Men as their unofficial mascots. They became involved in giveaways and photo ops, were featured in Pepsi billboard ads that appeared around the city, and were even inducted into the ESPN Hall of Fans in 2012!
Green Men controversy?
While the majority of hockey fans, users of online sportsbooks in Canada, and NHL players embraced the Green Men—who were seen as harmless pests at most—they did suffer a scandal or two.
After a complaint was filed to the National Hockey League, the Green Men were ordered to tone down their taunts by not touching the glass or doing handstands. Fans of the Green Men rallied against the complaint, saying that the super fans didn’t interfere with the game or players, and that their exploits were not malicious but more like a circus sideshow. Hockey Night in Canada analyst Eric Francis agreed saying that: “They have done nothing wrong. All they’re doing is adding to the ambiance and the atmosphere of a game, which is what makes a game so fun… a stadium so fun.”
The Green Men also aroused anger during the 2011 conference semifinals, when two impostors posing as them disrupted the traffic of a busy highway tunnel for hours. Those responsible were never found, but Force and Sully bore the brunt of the incident, with Force saying that by the time he’d woken up that day he’d received “about 17 different calls from people telling me that I had ruined their morning commute.”
Retirement and legacy
All good things must come to an end. Or rather, two grown men can only wear full body bright green spandex suits and act like complete idiots for so long.
While Force and Sully loved to attend games as Green Men, it was a costly venture that threatened to hurt their burgeoning careers in journalism, and after so many years they longed to attend hockey matches as just, well, men. So on November 7 2014, in a mock press conference video on the Canucks YouTube channel, the duo announced that they’d be retiring at the end of the 2014/2015 NHL season and embarked on a “Farewell Tour”.
Following their final appearance—in which they removed their green masks to reveal more green masks—the two offered up their spandex suits to the Vancouver Canucks to be hung in the rafters, a custom typically reserved for retired numbers of hockey greats. Tragically, Canucks officials did not respond to their proposal.
Their legacy, however, lives on in other ways. In addition to regular Twitter updates and promotional appearances for charity, their memoir Behind The Green is available in the Canucks hockey shop and on Amazon, and the two were animated and put in the NHL 16 video game by EA Sports. Not to mention the slew of copycats they’ve inspired to suit up in spandex and attend hockey matches.
But really? No one could ever live up to the originals.