The Green Men of Vancouver: "We're kinda like folk heroes."

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GreenMen3.jpgBy now, you’ve most likely seen and heard about the Green Men. The
unofficial new mascots of Vancouver, they became internet
sensations back in December when they were caught on camera taunting
Dave Scatchard of the Nashville Predators
while he sat in the penalty box at GM Place. They have since made periodic
appearances at Canucks home games, mysteriously showing up to random
games and becoming something of a phenomenon in Vancouver.

On
April 15th, in a home playoff game against the LA Kings, the Green Men
rose to the ranks of hockey celebrity they never thought possible. With
Jack Johnson in the penalty box, two men dressed in green spandex
plastered themselves to the glass
in what seemed to be impossible
positions; the video was instantly put on YouTube and their ‘antics’
have been viewed over 1 million times in just over a week.

The “Green Man” phenomenon has stemmed from the popular show “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”, spawning green men appearances all over the sports world. The Green Men in Vancouver have been able to take the meme to an extremely popular level, based on some crazy antics and the wonders of YouTube.

PHT was
able to talk with Sully and Force, as they prefer to be known, as they
prepare for another night at GM Place and another night of motivating an
already boisterous crowd. The two college students, preferring their
identities kept secret, never thought that this would become as big as
it has. They thought it would just be a one-time thing after the initial
game against Nashville in December, but after seeing the online
response to their appearance YouTube decided that if the people wanted
more, they’d give them more.

“We were in demand,” Sully says.
“Gotta keep the people happy.”

After a week of radio and
television appearances, multiple interviews and countless pictures with
strangers, Sully and Force have embraced their newfound celebrity. It’s
not something they expected.

“It’s really cool actually.
Originally, we just kinda figured that
this wouldn’t catch on. It was just a gimmick you know….a couple of
guys, a mascot kind of thing.”

Sully says that it’s become much
more than just fun as a mascot, however. It’s something…more.

“We’re
kinda like folk heroes out here now,” he says.
“I don’t want to say we’re superheroes, but we kinda fit that persona:
we wear spandex, we do what’s right for the community and everybody
kinda follows suit. We affect things when we’re at a game, and that’s
kinda cool.

“We can make them cheer at the drop of a dime and
that’s a
power that very few possess, I think.”

GreenMen.jpgThe crowds have certainly
started to respond to the two men in green, as they’ve taken on the job
of getting the fans at the game as loud and as boisterous as possible.
Taking up their seats next to the visitor’s penalty box, part of that
job is to make life miserable for the opposing players. It may not work
exactly as planned, but they certainly try.

“They try to ignore
us. We’ve gotten some pretty good reaction from them.
Drew Doughty was chirping at us a little bit. They try to ignore us,
but we try to obstruct their view of the play on the other end, we bang
on the glass so they can’t hear the countdown for when they’re supposed
to come out of the box.

“We just try to make it a rough atmosphere
for those two minutes.”

While Sully and Force were captured just
acting odd and banging on the glass against Nashville, they took it to a
completely different level against the Kings. Doing a handstand on the
seat, pressing yourself against the glass and being as obnoxious as
possible is one quick way to get thrown out of the game. Yet Sully says
that the officials haven’t been as rough on them as one might expect.

“In
the Nashville game the first time we banged on the glass the security
was tright there in our face. The next game, as they saw how big it was
they let us pretty much do our thing,” says Sully. “After the LA game,
when I went up
on the chair there and put my junk up on the glass in a headstand,
security was right there again. I think once they saw how big it was on
YouTube and stuff, they backed down a bit.”

“But they’re always
right
there in our face, we always have to deal with them.”

With their
popularity, which has turned into a nifty website and an incredibly
popular Facebook fan page
, has come more demand for their presence at
home games. They say they have a winning record at Canucks games, and
would love to keep doing what must be done to help out the team from the
stands. Yet for two college students, tickets on the glass in the
playoffs aren’t cheap. So while they go to as many games as possible,
they say that ” it would definitely help if we got some help from the
Canucks or
whomever.”

GreenMen2.jpgDespite the financial hardships involved in being local
heroes, there is also the added burden of becoming insanely popular.
When everyone knows who you are and you’re dressed in bright green
spandex, it can make getting around at the game fairly difficult, says
Sully.

“You have no idea.
After a game…it’s a lot better now that we’re in warmer weather. When
we went to games around Christmas, just to get from the building to the
parking lot…we get swarmed. We probably take another 50 to 100
pictures with people outside GM Place. Around Christmas time it was
freezing cold, so that’s a bit of an issue when you’re wearing tight
spandex.”

The Green Men will continue their quest to make life
miserable for opposing players, doing what must be done to get the crowd
into a game. They also haven’t limited themselves to Canucks games,
saying that they might make some appearances Seattle Seahawks games this
year as well.

“We go
where we’re needed,” says Sully.

“Like a true superhero.”

Photos courtesy of thegreenmenfanpage.com.

The Buzzer: Tatar’s three-point night; Matthews makes more history

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Three Stars

1. Tomas Tatar, Montreal Canadiens. Two big wins in a row for the Canadiens. Two big nights for Tatar, who now has six points in his last two games. During a 7-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings, Tatar scored a goal and assisted on two others. Last season, Tatar had only two multi-point games the entire year.

2. Kasperi Kapanen, Toronto Maple Leafs. Kapanen continued his red-hot start with a pair of goals during the Maple Leafs’ 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. He now has four goals and eight points through seven games this season, really making most of this opportunity in William Nylander‘s absence.

3. Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators. A 37-save effort from Anderson helped the Senators dispatch the Dallas Stars 4-1. It was Anderson’s second win in a row and over his last two games he’s stopped 73 of 75 shots faced.

Highlights of the Night

• During their game Monday night, the Senators remembered the late Ray Emery:

• Maxime Lajoie can’t stop scoring. The Senators defensman potted his fourth of the season and now has seven points on the season.

• In his 1,000th NHL game, Tomas Plekanec scored:

• One of Kapanen’s goals was this bank shot:

• Good luck trying to stop this Matt Dumba rocket:

Factoid of the Night

Scores
Maple Leafs 4, Kings 1

Senators 4, Stars 1
Canadiens 7, Red Wings 3
Predators 4, Wild 2

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Panthers’ Matheson suspended two games for slamming Pettersson to ice

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The NHL announced on Monday evening that Florida Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson has been suspended two games for “interference and unsportsmanlike conduct” against Vancouver Canucks rookie forward Elias Pettersson over the weekend.

Petterson has been entered in to the NHL’s concussion protocol and is expected to be sidelined for the next 7-10 days as a result of the play.

The incident took place early in the third period of Saturday’s game in Florida and left the Canucks completely furious. Just after Pettersson had dangled around Matheson in the offensive zone, Matheson again encountered the talented rookie along the boards and after checking him, proceeded to slam him to the ice with the puck nowhere near the two players.

Here is the video as well as the NHL’s explanation for the suspension.

Panthers coach Bob Boughner tried to defend his play on Monday by saying that Matheson is an honest player and that he was just attempting to finish his check hard, while Matheson’s agent said that his client was “surprised” by how light Pettersson is and that it all happened very quickly.

On Monday, Canucks coach Travis Green was still upset about the play and how it resulted in his team losing a bright young star to injury on a play that was not necessary.

“Am I mad at the play? Extremely mad. I’m really upset, I still am,” Green said. “We lost a bright young player to an injury that I don’t think was necessary. I’m pissed off right now, still talking about it.”

Matheson forfeits $52,419.36 in salary and is eligible to return to the Panthers’ lineup Saturday against Detroit.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Crosby, MacKinnon surprise Kenyan hockey team (Video)

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Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon have teamed up before to promote Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee and donut shop, but their latest venture saw them help spread the gospel of hockey.

Tim Hortons flew 12 members of Kenya’s senior men’s hockey team to Canada over the summer for a game. The African team, which was formed in 2012 and has set a goal for future Olympic participation, has only been able to play against themselves back home and this would be a new experience playing against an actual opponent.

As the players gathered inside their locker room, which featured brand new equipment and Kenya hockey jerseys, in came the Pittsburgh Penguins captain and Colorado Avalanche star to join their team.

“It is a dream to not only have the chance to play in Canada, but to play – for the first time – in full gear alongside two of the greatest players of the game,” said team captain Benard Azegere. “When we first started playing in Kenya, we didn’t even have full equipment, but now not only do we have that, we can say we’ve played a real game with some All-Star teammates.”

“That’s the best part about the game, just how it reaches so many people in a place like Kenya where you wouldn’t think there’s even ice,” Crosby said on Monday via the Tribune-Review. “To meet people from different places and to share the game that we love to play, I think I had as much fun as any of those guys today.”

The Kenyan Ice Hockey Federation is coming soon, and the men are not alone in their pursuit of a national team. As ESPN.com documented last week, a group of five women make up the Nairobi Ice Lions, who, like the men, see Olympic participation in their future.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Alex DeBrincat is Blackhawks’ next rising star

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Alex DeBrincat spent three seasons between 2014 and 2017 absolutely dominating the Ontario Hockey League. He was one of the most productive and prolific scorers in all of junior hockey during his time with the Erie Otters, and never finished a full season with less than 50 goals or 100 points.

That sort of production, combined with his obvious talent level, should have made him one of the first picks in the 2016 draft class.

It didn’t. Mainly because he was listed at 5-7 and under 170 pounds, making him one of the smallest players in the class and, today, one of the smallest players in the NHL. As he slid out of the first round in 2016 there was always the potential for somebody to get a steal of a player.

That somebody turned out to be the Chicago Blackhawks, who ended up snagging him with the 39th overall pick in the draft.

Today, that pick is looking like one of the steals of that draft.

DeBrincat has been one of the offensive stars for the Blackhawks in the early going this season and already has nine points (including six goals) in the team’s first five games. That comes after a rookie season that saw him finish as the Blackhawks’ leading goal scorer. So far, he is one of the most productive players to come out of his draft class as the only players to outscore him have been Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, Mathew Tkachuk, and Clayton Keller, all of whom were among the first seven players taken in the draft.

Only Matthews, Laine, and Keller have been better on a points per game basis.

All of this is a huge development for the Blackhawks.

Given their current salary cap situation they are going to need young players on cheap contracts to fill in around their big-money stars at the top of the lineup. DeBrincat is well on his way to giving them such a player and should be part of the organization’s next wave of young talent. And that next wave seems to have some promising prospects. Along with DeBrincat the Blackhawks are also getting a ton of production out of rookie defenseman Henri Jokiharju, the team’s first-round pick in 2017, and they also have Adam Boqvist, the No. 7 overall pick from 2018, waiting in the wings.

The lesson that the rest of the teams in the league should take away from this is to never let a player’s size stand in the way of giving them a chance. Over the past decade teams have been far more willing to take “undersized” players than they used to be, but they are still a little too fearful of that lack of size because there was nothing in DeBrincat’s production or play as a junior player that should have resulted in him being anything other than a first-round pick … and probably a very high one. Obviously if all things are equal with players the bigger, more physical player is preferable. But in cases like DeBrincat (and Johnny Gaudreau, and Nikita Kucherov, and so on and so on before him) all things are not usually equal.

DeBrincat has always been a highly skilled player that produced at an obscene level. There was always the potential for him to be a top-line player. A lot of teams couldn’t get past the lack of size and allowed him to slip all the way down to the second round. The Blackhawks were the team to take the “chance” on him and are being rewarded with an emerging star that could be a potential difference-maker for them for a very, very long time.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.