Ryan Sullivan and Adam Forsythe didn’t expect themselves to go viral after dressing up in green morphsuits and dancing beside the penalty box at a Vancouver Canucks game six years ago.
But that’s exactly what ended up happening.
Known as their public personas of Sully and Force, the two were in Cranbrook to watch the Ice take on the Rockets on Saturday night at Western Financial Place.
Inspired by an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia six years ago, they ordered neon green morphsuits with the intention of going to Seattle for a Seahawks game.
However, one suit ended up coming late and so the two decided to don them for a Canucks game at Rogers Arena.
And thus, the legend of the Green Men was born.
For Vancouver Canucks fans, the Green Men should need no introduction.
The two terrorized and amused opposition players who booked a trip to the penalty box in Vancouver for years. However, all good things must come to an end and the suits will be retired after one last epic tour around the province this spring.
It’s been quite the run for the Green Men, who peaked in popularity right around Vancouver’s run to the Stanley Cup final in 2011.
Whether it be from dancing by the box, doing reverse hand stands or holding up clever signs, the duo usually managed to elicit a reaction from the players or surrounding fans. They even got the attention of Grapes, the patriarch of Canadian hockey himself.
“That’s like the Canadian dream, getting ripped by Don Cherry,” said Forsythe.
Kicking off the origin of the Green Men, Sullivan and Forsythe were hoping to wear them out to a Seahawks game, but one arrived too late back in the fall of 2009.
“We thought it’d be funny to get these suits, sit in the top row and just embarrass our buddies,” said Sullivan.
“My suit came a day after the football game, and I had Canucks tickets, so I thought ‘This could be funny, lets try this.’
“And then it just blew up, and to this day, neither of us have any idea why it blew up and why it kept going.”
Their first game was Dec. 22 against the Nashville Predators and they returned a week later for a tilt against the Edmonton Oilers. They knew something was different after they took a month off.
“Over the course of that month, people were asking where we were, people constantly asking to interview us,” Sullivan said.
Much of the interest was driven by social media, which was easily gauged by their Youtube views.
“I did a hand stand and a few days afterwards, it had a million hits on Youtube and I’m like, ‘This is insane’,” Sullivan added.
Eventually, they started bringing in signs and props, beginning with a Vince Vaughn cutout at the 2010 playoff round against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“Before that, we had just danced,” said Forsythe.
A favourite target included former Canuck defenceman Shane O’Brien, who got into hot water with the team after showing up late to practice back in 2010 due to partying at a bar the night before. Now, every time he comes back in another uniform he’s an easy mark.
“Shane O’Brien, he just goes out onto the ice with a bulls-eye for criticism,” said Sullivan, referencing a time where they held up a sign asking, ‘Which way to the Roxy?’
“Especially after those photos came out of him at the Roxy, it’s like, ‘Alright, this is a sure thing.'”
That was during Vancouver’s 2011 playoff run, but their sign didn’t make it on TV until the intermission.
“It didn’t make it on TV, he was mixing drinks and stuff and I had the sign,” said Sullivan. “And then that intermission, Don Cherry showed it, which is like 10 million times better. It was the best thing ever.
“Not only are we making fun of O’Brien, but we had Cherry ripping us about it too.”
One of their more memorable stunts involved Eggo waffles.
In reference to a Maple Leafs fan throwing a waffle on the ice at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, the Green Men snuck a box of waffles into Rogers Arena and started throwing them around when Vancouver hosted Toronto in 2010.
“That’s a full credit to Ryan,” said Forsythe. “Our bags are kind of checked as we come into Rogers Arena…Ryan’s like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to go across the street and buy a Costco-sized box of Eggo waffles.
“I’m like ‘That’s a horrible idea and we’re going to get kicked out.’ But that was his greatest call ever because it blew up, it’s huge.”
Said Sullivan: “I feel like I’ve done some good things in my life, but that’s the number one.”
Naturally, their antics has gotten under the skin of the opposition, but there are others who take it in stride.
“Our first season, Paul Statsny is in the box, playing for Colorado and we’re just laying into him,” Forsythe said. “He’s like, ‘I don’t know why you guys make fun of me, I watch all your Youtube videos. I think you’re hilarious.’
“And that just shut us up. Like, what do you say to that? [Mike] Komisaruk, same thing.”
Even Milan Lucic of the Boston Bruins, which have a blood-rivalry with the Canucks ever since the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, was able to laugh at himself and the Green Men.
The Boston power forward took a penalty and sat in the box. On the other side of the glass, the Green Men put on witches noses, mocking one of his more prominent facial features.
“He was laughing, he was loving it,” Sullivan said.
Added Forsythe: “It helped that Boston was up, like, 4-2.”
After building up a cult following of sports fans in Vancouver and on social media, the two have decided to retire the green man suits. Both cited ticket costs, fan atmosphere and a desire to move on to other things as reasons for the change.
Their final tour around the province, which is sponsored by Pacific Coastal Airlines, includes stops in WHL and Jr. A and Jr. B markets. They are also seeking donations in support of the Canadian Cancer Society, which will go towards kidney research.