Vancouver’s Stanley Cup Craze: Grown Men in Full-Body Spandex

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Photos by Tim Newcomb

We all knew Canadians went crazy for hockey, but how about spandex? And full-body green spandex at that. As fans in Vancouver, B.C., clamor to catch a glimpse of their beloved Canucks during the NHL’s Stanley Cup Finals, they have also caught the full-body spandex bug—a party started by Sully and Force, two grown men who don full-body lime green suits and hassle opposing players from their seats directly adjacent to the penalty box.Force—he doesn’t like to use his real name for obvious reasons—tells NewsFeed the antics of the two friends in their 20s works to pump up the fans in Rogers Arena, energizing the players.

The two Green Men, who purchase their tickets from a former employer and season ticket holder, have gotten so popular they make sponsor appearances prior to games—which help pay for their habit, especially when the Stanley Cup Finals reaches $700 per games—and even travel to the occasional away game.

And now others have followed suit. A trio of ladies occasionally sits in the front row in full-body pink spandex and plenty of green look-a-likes have cropped up. “I think it is awesome,” Force says. “I saw a man pushing 300 pounds in a green suit. I look thinner than that, so it is cool. Who knew two grown men in spandex could become so popular?”

(VIDEO: Stanley Cup Finals, Game 1: One Bite, One Goal)

Force and Sully can’t go anywhere in Rogers Arena without drawing a crowd. Fans of all ages press to get pictures taken with the two anywhere in the arena, or on the downtown streets of Vancouver.

The pair routinely plans their penalty box episodes, using dances, signs and celebrity cutouts—they dance with these too—to gain the attention of opponents and work to frenzy the crowd. Some ideas have days of pre-planning, others just minutes. At one point during the playoffs, the NHL decided to clamp down on the pair and ordered them to cool their behavior. A flood of complaints ensued and the NHL retracted its stance.

When a Boston penalty first came over halfway through the first period of Saturday evening’s Game 2, Force and Sully got right to work getting under the skin of Boston’s Zdeno Chara, drawing in a nearby fan dressed in a bear outfit—with a Canucks jersey—to help. The fans around the Green Men shot to their feet to cheer and take photos, while the stadium’s main scoreboard showed Force and Sully. Then, almost on cue, the Canucks scored during the penalty, giving them a 1-0 lead. Boston did rally to score two goals in the second period, but Vancouver tied it in the third and scored 11 seconds into overtime for the 3-2 win, taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Force was especially proud of getting into the head of Bruin Brad Marchand in Game 1, earning Force a squirt from Marchand’s penalty-box water bottle. Marchand told a Boston radio station that the Green Men were too ugly to reveal themselves, a claim Force neither confirmed nor denied.

For those not opting for the head-to-toe covering, a Vancouver jersey remains the best option for fans trying to will their team to its first Stanley Cup in the team’s 40-year history. While some teams pre-plan “white-outs” and other choreographed outfits, there’s no need for that in Vancouver, as at least 70 percent of the 18,000 fans come dressed in a home-town jersey. Force says Reebok didn’t expect the rush of jersey sales and it can be tough to find one around Vancouver. Pair the bevy of blue jerseys with waving white towels and Rogers Arena takes on a new life during the Stanley Cup.

There’s also life beyond Vancouver for the Green Men, who secured a sponsorship from a Toronto travel agency for a free trip—with tickets—to the next two games of the finals in Boston. The Green Men have created a cult-like celebrity following in Vancouver. Boston may not agree. Then again, doesn’t everyone love grown men in spandex?

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