VANCOUVER – Vancouver Canucks players aren’t the only ones looking forward to their playoff rematch with the Chicago Blackhawks?so, too, are the team’s green spandex-sporting fans.
Sully and Force, who have become the Stanley Cup-starved club’s most visible supporters since they first donned the Kermit-the-Frog-esque outfits last December, say they already have some new routines in the works for the Blackhawks.
Among the duo’s targets will be Chicago star Patrick Kane, who pleaded guilty last August to a non-criminal charge of disorderly conduct after he and his cousin were accused of roughing up a cab driver over 20 cents.
“For Kane, we could offer him some cab fare. I know he’s a little short sometimes,” said Sully, a journalism student who asked that his real name not be used for fear his extracurricular activities might scare off potential employers.
Sully and Force made their debut on Dec. 22 when Vancouver hosted the Nashville Predators.
When the road side’s Dave Scatchard visited the penalty box next to which Sully and Force were sitting, he was treated to a series of pressed-up-against-the-glass dance moves and taunts. Scatchard responded by covering up the camera inside the box with a towel.
Since then, the green men have become local celebrities and their antics have even been featured on the BBC and ESPN.
A Facebook group dedicated to Sully and Force has netted nearly 50,000 fans. When the two arrived at a Canucks-related news conference at Vancouver city hall earlier this week, they received louder cheers than the mayor, team owner and even mascot Fin.
Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa said he’s among those who enjoys watching Sully and Force in action. He also believes it gives his team something of an edge.
“I think it’s hilarious,” he said. “It’s great for us to have fans like that. I know when you take a penalty in the playoffs, it’s a big deal. You feel ashamed.
“I think they are getting under people’s skin. From talking to a couple of guys in L.A. (who play for the Kings, it’s like) ‘who are those clowns behind the penalty box?'”
The 28-year-old defender from Grimsby, Ont., isn’t the only member of the Bieksa clan who can’t get enough of the men in green.
“My son loves those green guys,” he said.
Sully and Force first purchased their suits online so they could wear them to a National Football League game. But as fate would have it, the suits didn’t show up until the day after they made their trek to Seattle?so rather than see all that spandex go to waste, Sully and Force decided to wear them to a Canucks tilt.
The full-body green spandex outfits first rose to prominence after they were worn by a character on the TV show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.”
Sully and Force attended the Nashville game after receiving tickets from a Vancouver roofing company for which they had done some work.
The owner provided more free tickets after the duo shot to fame, but Sully said the students have since been forced to pay out of their own pocket.
That’s not the only challenge that’s come with all the attention and the attire.
“We can see probably, I’m going to say 10 to 15 feet pretty well in front of us, but aside from that, it’s pretty blurry,” Sully said.
“Unless that goal horn goes off, we don’t know what the hell’s going on.”
He added that it can also be a little chilly being green, since he and Force wear nothing under their suits.
“Some games, it was like minus-five outside so it leaves very little to the imagination,” he said. “And I emphasize little.”
When asked what his favourite moment has been since he became one of the green guys, Sully pointed to the Scatchard incident. He said he and Force also received some choice words from Kings defenceman Drew Doughty during Round 1 of the playoffs.
The Canucks open Round 2 on Saturday in Chicago and when the series eventually shifts to Vancouver, Sully said Jonathan Toews?who, like Doughty, played for Canada at the Winter Olympics in February?will be among those he and Force go after.
“I hate to go after Jonathan Toews because he’s a good Canadian boy, but we could have birds circling around his head,” he said, alluding to a hit on Toews by Canuck Willie Mitchell that forced Toews to miss some time with a concussion earlier this season.
The Canucks were eliminated by the Hawks in six games last season, with Kane netting a hat trick in the final contest.
With more depth offensively, Sully said he likes his team’s chances of avenging that loss.
“I think the sky’s the limit for these guys,” he said.