Vancouver Canucks: NHL Censoring the Green Men Shows a Lack of Common Sense

Adam Graham@@adam_grahamAnalyst IIMay 2, 2011

Anyone who follows the NHL, or more specifically the Vancouver Canucks, has probably seen the antics of the now infamous Green Men who wear neon green bodysuits at Canucks games.

The Green Men, nicknamed Force and Sully, have been sitting, dancing, hand-standing, crotch-pressing, and generally mocking opposing players beside the opposing team's penalty box at various games for almost 17 months now.

It’s gotten to the point where they’ve almost become local celebrities in Vancouver and they’ve even been involved with several promotions put on by the Canucks, including fan fest events and autograph signings.

They have been praised around the sports world for their entertaining and creative ways of cheering on their team and trying to psyche-out the opposition. In addition to the local and national media coverage they have received in Canada, the Green Men have also been referenced on the hit ESPN talk show Pardon The Interruption. Furthermore, they recently had a story done about them on the ESPN show E:60 and just the other day, Reggie Bush of all people sent out a tweet praising their work.

So you’d think the NHL’s front office would be on board with the Green Men and would welcome the attention the league is getting, right?


The NHL has apparently asked the Green Men to tone down their antics at future games. Specifically, they’ve been asked not to touch the glass of the penalty box and perform handstands against it.

There is no confirmation on whether league officials took it upon themselves to contact Force and Sully, or if a complaint was filed to the league by the Nashville Predators, the Canucks current playoff opponent.

Either way, this ridiculous demand by the NHL is the latest example of a league that is completely out of touch with its fans and lacks any common sense when it comes to many of its decisions.

Perhaps the NHL is trying to take a run at the NFL for the title of "No Fun League." I can’t really think of a similar acronym that goes with N-H-L. "No Humour League?" That one could work. After all, only a bunch of people with no sense of humour whatsoever can tell the most popular fans in the entire league to stop doing what has made them and the league so popular.

After all, the Green Men aren’t doing anything that other fans aren’t allowed to do at games. Fans who sit near the boards have been banging on the glass at hockey games for decades now. Is the NHL going to suddenly invoke a ban on spectators touching the glass? Of course they’re not.

Are they suddenly going to ban ticket holders from bringing signs or cardboard cut-outs to NHL games as well? No.

So why single out the Green Men?

Perhaps NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is just really grossed out by the sight of two neon green crotches and rear ends pressed up against the glass at Canuck games and he wants it to stop. Or perhaps he just doesn’t like the Canucks organization.

Both of those explanations seem far-fetched, but there is a theory among some Canucks fans that the NHL front office is conspiring against the hockey club. I’ve never bought into it myself, but it’s interesting to think about when you consider the Green Men story along with a couple of other bizarre cease and desist orders the NHL issued recently involving the Canucks.

One of the orders was given to a Vancouver car dealership telling them to remove a “Go Canucks Go” sign from their window along with the Canucks logo because the slogan and the team’s logo are protected by copyright.

But what about all the other businesses around North America promoting their respective NHL clubs by displaying team logos and slogans? Are you telling me there isn’t a car dealership in Detroit with a Red Wings logo in its window or a bar in Philadelphia with a Flyers logo somewhere inside? I guess the league watchdogs are only watching over the city of Vancouver when it comes to cracking down on fan enthusiasm that ultimately promotes the NHL.

The other cease and desist order was handed down to Vancouver radio station Rock 101 for a fun promotion where fans could smash an old van sporting a Chicago Blackhawks or Nashville Predators logo with a sledgehammer. For some reason, that didn’t fly with the NHL either, even though, once again, it was only meant to promote fan enthusiasm for the Canucks and the NHL playoffs. Oh and did I mention that this promotion was also a fundraiser for the Make-a-Wish foundation?

The NHL front office really needs to give their collective heads a shake on that one.

The 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs are not even three weeks old and the NHL has already issued three separated warnings to fans and businesses in the city of Vancouver to essentially tone down the excitement over the Canucks. So while it’s probably a bit much to think the league is conspiring against the Canucks winning the Stanley Cup, at the very least they seem to be doing their best to ruin the celebration amongst Canucks fans.