Canuck fever is burning hot in Vancouver, as our beloved hockey team is off to the semi-finals of the Stanley Cup. Blue and white flags are flying from cars and the lions on the Lions Gate Bridge have donned Canuck jerseys. Go Canucks go can be heard from the deepest, darkest recesses of our mountains as even the black bears have boarded the bandwagon.
But I’ve heard almost as much about the antics of the Green Men as the lackluster play by our team’s infamous twins, the Sedin brothers. In fact, these two pranksters have vaulted to popularity during these playoffs as fast as the Swedish twins have fallen from glory.
The Green Men have become an institution in Vancouver since 2009, when they first appeared on the scene in seats beside the opposing team’s penalty box. As their name suggests, they appear in the stadium wearing skintight green lycra suits. Whenever a player sits in the sin bin, the Green Men come to life, taunting and cajoling the player.
The home crowd generally loves them, they are more interesting to watch than Finn, the official mascot. Their object is to get under the competitors skin, in the hopes that it throws them off their game. If you’re a Canucks fan, this seems noble enough. If you’re on the other side, it seems rude and unsportsman-like.
Thus the clash of controversy.
Nevertheless they have grown in popularity, and are now not only a fixture during home games, they traveled to Nashville to continue their pranks beside the penalty box.
But recently our bonafide mascots have come under fire. The NHL has asked the Green Men to stop doing handstands and banging on the glass.
The Green Men responded by bringing a cardboard cut out of themselves to the next game, and inverting their likeness on the glass so that they weren’t doing the handstands, only their cardboard selves were.
Don Cherry, Hockey Night in Canada‘s hilarious and outrageous commentator, weighed in between periods in Game six of the Vancouver/Nashville series, with a message to the Green Men: Don’t be mean, keep it clean.
He was referring to the Green Men’s recent gag, bringing a cardboard cutout of Carrie Underwood wearing a Canuck jersey. Underwood is married to a player on Nashville’s team, and they taunted him with the picture when he was in the penalty box. Don felt they crossed the line of acceptable behavior by bringing a player’s wife into their act.
Love them or hate them, they are stirring up controversy and bringing another element to the game that Canadians are already passionate about. They are providing entertainment for the lower bowl and much fodder for the news outfits and local radio shows.
For ardent fans, it begs the question: how much is too much? Are the Green Men taking away from the game, or adding an element of fun?